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Facebook becomes free on mobile handsets in East Africa

Tigo Tanzania, Facebook sign deal, marking first time that social media site will be free on any mobile network in this part of continent

Tigo Tanzania has entered into a partnership with Facebook, giving its customers in the country free access to the social media site’s services in English and a new Kiswahili version. Free access is available through customers’ mobile handsets.

It is the first time that Facebook will be free on any mobile network in East Africa, according to Tigo General Manager Diego Gutierrez.

“What this partnership means is that Tigo customers can, for the first time, access Facebook through their handsets without incurring any data charges and connect with the social media network’s 2 million users in Tanzania and 1.2 billion users worldwide,” says Gutierrez.

“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 the East, Central and Southern African 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 customers to use data as part of their daily communications activity,” says Gutierrez.

The strategic partnership is part of Facebook’s recent initiative launched by the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

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