Facebook has kicked off its AfricaCom 2015 activities with the launch of the Free Basics Incubator, an open source toolkit of technologies and strategies supported by digital agency Torchbox, which will allow organisations to adapt existing services for mobile, and to create new services for distribution on the Free Basics Platform.
The global social media powerhouse held a media briefing in Cape Town this week to announce its partnership with the Praekelt Foundation and the launch of this service.
“Connectivity matters. It brings opportunity for people around the world. When people are connected they can achieve extraordinary things as individuals and as communities,” said Ime Archibong, director of strategic partnerships at Facebook. “The Free Basics Platform allows developers, entrepreneurs and small business to create and share content in an open, free and non-discriminatory way. There are no costs involved for using the platform and apps and services can be rolled out for both feature phones and smartphones,” he said.
“Our goal is to work with as many developers as possible and to grow the local ecosystems to extend the benefits of connectivity to diverse, local communities around the world,” Archibong added.
The new partnership with the Praekelt Foundation supports developers and social change organisations in delivering accessible online services designed for, and by people, in the developing world. “Together, Facebook and the developer, entrepreneur and non-profit communities can work to bring opportunity to people in Africa and around the world, “ said Archibong.
The incubator programme will provide support and resources to 100 independently selected social change organisations and will facilitate workshops in Africa and India to support the development and delivery of apps and services to previously unconnected communities.
“The Praekelt Foundation believes that freely available access to essential information and basic services is a human right. When people have access to the tools and knowledge that the internet and other digital communication technologies provide, they have access to opportunities that will make their lives better,” said Gustav Praekelt, Praekelt, group founder and CEO.
We’ve never seen our work reach so many people so quickly, but there is so much more that can still be done – and that is where the Free Basics Incubator partnership with Facebook comes in
“We’re proud to say that since the launch of Internet.org just under a year ago, the sites and services we’ve created with our partners have been accessed by more than 10 million people in over 29 countries. Among the partners we have worked with are UNICEF, Girl Effect, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), Baby Centre and many other NGOs. More than one billion people, many of them first-time internet users, now have free access to potentially life-saving information via Internet.org and its Free Basics Platform.
“We’ve never seen our work reach so many people so quickly, but there is so much more that can still be done – and that is where the Free Basics Incubator partnership with Facebook comes in,” said Preakelt.
“The incubator programme aims to support content providers, NGOs and social impact organisations around the developing world to build new services to empower individuals and communities,” he said.
Facebook’s Internet.org partners with mobile operators, technology leaders, non-profits and local communities to connect the two thirds of the world with no access to the internet. Internet.org works with mobile operators in 29 countries to bring free basic internet services to people without data charges and is available to over a billion people across Asia, Africa and Latin America through the Free Basics Platform. The platform is currently in use in 14 African countries including Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Senegal, Zambia, Ghana, Angola and Malawi.
The platform allows developers and entrepreneurs to easily create and roll out relevant mobile solutions and is creating positive social impact by empowering local communities with free health education, news updates, local updates and economic information.
Organisations who would like to apply to join the Praekelt Foundation Incubator for Free Basics can register here.
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