Orange to provide Wikipedia for free in Africa and the Middle East

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

Mobile phone network Orange has announced a new deal with Wikipedia which will bring the online encyclopaedia to mobiles in Africa and the Middle East.

The deal that has been struck between Orange and Wikipedia means that mobile internet users in Africa and the Middle East will able to access Wikipedia without incurring data charges.

Usually, users of smartphones and other mobile internet devices have to pay for using the internet, through internet data charges.

But the new agreement, which Orange claims is the first of its kind in the world, will mean that users can access Wikipedia free of data charges.

“Wikipedia is an important service, a public good -- and so we want people to be able to access it for free, regardless of what device they're using,” said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

“This partnership with Orange will enable millions of people to read Wikipedia, who previously couldn't. We're thrilled to be Orange's partner in this important endeavour.”

Orange currently has more than 70 million customers across African and the Middle East, but only a small portion of these have access to mobile internet.

Only around ten million of its customers have a mobile internet-enabled phone, with access to either 2G or 3G. The mobile phone operator hopes that this partnership will boost this number.

“In countries where access to information is not always readily available, we are making it simple and easy for our customers to use the world's most comprehensive online encyclopaedia,” said Marc Rennard, Orange’s Group Executive Vice President for Africa, the Middle-East and Asia.

Orange recently launched a new prepaid credit card, offering customers a range of rewards. These include Orange shop vouchers, free minutes for pay-as-you-go customers, and Orange reward points.

The phone operator is currently offering customers a refund on their £5 sign-up fee if they load £20 on to the Orange prepaid card by 29th February, but this offer is only available with Compare prepaid until 31st January.

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