In May 2016, Facebook announced the launch of its Free Basics service in Nigeria, its largest African market. Free Basics is part of the Internet.org initiative created by Facebook. The service allows users access Facebook and other websites at no cost to them. Here’s everything you should know about the service in Nigeria:
Free Basics Was Launched in Nigeria in Partnership with Airtel
The Free Basics service in Nigeria was launched in partnership with Airtel. What this means is that the service is only available to users on the network. The service was launched after Airtel CEO, Christian de Farai announced that it was launching the service in 17 African countries. The announcement was made in November 2015. Here were the words of the Airtel CEO:
“With Africa’s widest 3G network, Airtel has been at the forefront of the data revolution in Africa. We are cognizant of the power of internet in changing lives of communities and this partnership with Facebook will aid in bringing more people online and reduce the digital divide.”
Airtel already launched the service in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Seychelles and Rwanda by the end of 2014. In the first phase after the 2015 announcement, it launched the service in Nigeria, DRC, Gabon and Niger.
Free Basics is also available on the 9Mobile network in Nigeria and Express Wifi (Coollink). I tested out the service on my 9Mobile network and it was quick, simple and clean.
2. Here Are The Services Available on Free Basics
Users of the platform will be able to access services like health, education, jobs, communication and local content with zero balance. Some of the websites available on the platform are listed below.
- Ask a Doctor by Kangpe
- BBC News
There are a number of other websites you can access for free on the platform. You can check them out here. As at 2016, there were more than 85 of these services in all. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, excitedly announced the availability of Jobberman on the platform. Facebook will clearly continue to work with Nigerian programmers to build local content that will make the platform attractive to users.
3. How To Access Free Basics On Your Phone
You can only access the platform on the Airtel and 9Mobile network in Nigeria. You can also access it via the Express Wifi (Coollink).
Here are the steps to access it on the 9 Mobile network:
- Turn on your mobile data
- Open a browser and type in this URL; https://0.freebasics.com/
- Alternatively you can also download the Free Basics by Facebook app in your Google Play store
Here are the steps to access it on the Airtel network:
- Turn on your mobile data. Remember the service is free so no worries.
- Go to the internet on your phone browser
- Type: www.freebasics.com
- Click “Continue” to accept the Terms. Enjoy the free services!
- You can also access the service via the app from your Google Play store after you download it.
Here is a great article about how to get on the platform. It’s a great read if you need more details.
While there are arguments regarding the impact of the platform on net neutrality, it makes sense for many Nigerian users. There are about 34 million subscribers on the Airtel network and 19 million Nigerians offline. Many of these people will find the free platform attractive due to the high cost of data. Let us know what you think in the comments section.
[Cover Image Credit: www.internet.org]