Facebook’s Free Basics Platform, which brings relevant basic internet services without data charges to people in growing countries, has brought 15-million people online through 60 services in 29 countries – including 14 in Africa.
The company has also announced the Praekelt Foundation Incubator for Free Basics, a global partnership to support developers building for the Free Basics Platform.
Free Basics is now available to more than 1-billion people across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Some of the African countries where Free Basics has been launched include Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Senegal, Zambia, Ghana, Angola and Malawi. Mobile phone users in these countries now have access to a set of web sites and services with no data charges, in categories including maternal health, education, news updates, as well as local information.
The programme is making an impact on people’s lives by providing free health, education, and economic information.
For instance, SmartBusiness, a web site that helps people learn to launch and run a business, now sees five times more daily searches since launching in South Africa in July, meaning more people are getting access to important economic information. BabyCenter and MAMA both reach millions of people around the globe with vital health information for pregnancy and parenting, including 3,4-million people through Internet.org’s free basics services alone.
“When people are connected, they can achieve extraordinary things as individuals and as a community. Connectivity brings opportunity for people around the world, and we’ve seen this first-hand here in Africa, where we began this journey,” says  Ime Archibong, director of strategic partnerships at Facebook.
The platforms was introduced in May as a way for developers to easily create services that integrate with Free Basics, and a way to give people more choice and control over the services they access. And now, the Free Basics Platform is live.
Archibong adds: “Our mission is to connect the world, and we know when we bring communities together we can have even more impact. That’s why we launched the Free Basics Platform to work with as many developers, non-profits and the social good community, and entrepreneurs as possible to extend the benefits of connectivity to diverse, local communities.
“Today is the next step in this journey, and I’m thrilled to announce the Praekelt Foundation Incubator for Free Basics here in Africa together with the team. The people I have met and impact I have seen from the benefits of connectivity simply remind me we are only 1% done. Together Facebook and the developer, entrepreneur and non-profit communities in Africa can work together to bring opportunity to people in Africa and around the world.”