Partnership for Free Access to Facebook

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It’s thumps up by Tigo Tanzania GM, Gutierrez (L), and Facebook representative, D’Elia, during the launch of a historic partnership between their two companies

A partnership deal between Tigo, a telecom provider in Tanzania, will soon make access to Facebook free for the first time, on any mobile network in East Africa

ACCESS to Facebook will soon be free on any mobile network in East Africa. On April 25, Tigo, a telecom provider in Tanzania, clinched a partnership deal with Facebook for this purpose. With the partnership, all Tigo’s customers in the country will get free access to Facebook services in English and a new Kiswahili version through their mobile handsets. It is the first time that Facebook will be free on any mobile network in East Africa, according to Diego Gutierrez, Tigo’s general manager.

Speaking at the launch of the partnership in Dar es Salaam, Gutierrez said: “What this partnership means is that Tigo’s customers can, for the first time, access Facebook through their handsets without incurring any data charges and connect with the social media network’s two millions of users in Tanzania and its 1.2 billion users worldwide. It is the first time any major social media company has made a version in Kiswahili, the national language spoken by Tanzanians and majority of the people in East, Central and Southern Africa region.

“Facebook has been a fantastic driver of data on mobile networks. With this unique partnership, we are making Tigo stand out from the crowd and giving many customers their first taste of the internet and social media, including in Kiswahili. That’s what creating the digital lifestyle is all about, and it reinforces our strategy to encourage more Tigo’s customers to use data as part of their daily communications activity.”

Guttierrez said: “The new service will open new frontiers to Tanzanians and to other Kiswahili speakers by offering them new business, educational and other socio-economic opportunities across the world.”  The strategic partnership is part of Facebook’s recent Internet.org initiative launched by Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s founder.

Apart from the five East African Community, EAC, member states, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, Kiswahili is also spoken in parts of Malawi, Somalia, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique.

With this launch, Tanzania, a country recognised for being the cradle of Kiswahili language, becomes the first in the region to showcase this language globally, a breakthrough that Tigo, its parent company Millicom and Facebook take credit for.

This is the second time that Facebook and Millicom have partnered following the joint launch of free mobile access to Facebook with Tigo Paraguay in December 2013 and the service’s launch in the historic native Guarani language there.

Nicola D’ Elia, Facebook director for International Growth and Partnerships, said: “We ‘re excited to be working with Tigo again to give more people in Tanzania the ability to share and connect free of data charges across Facebook apps and  mobile website, and now in the traditional language of Kiswahili.”

Tigo started operations in 1994 as the first cellular network in Tanzania. It now covers 30 regions in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.  Tigo strives to be Tanzania’s most innovative mobile phone operator, offering services ranging from affordable mobile voice communications to high speed Internet access and mobile financial services through Tigo Pesa.

Tigo is part of Millicom which provides affordable, widely accessible and readily available cellular telephone services to more than 50 million customers in 13 emerging markets in Africa and Latin America. The success of Tigo is based on the “Triple A” strategy, which stands for affordability, accessibility and availability. It creates a world where mobile services are affordable, accessible and available everywhere and to all. This guarantees that our subscribers experience the best services at the most affordable rates throughout all the 30 regions in both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.

— May 12, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

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