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Facebook launched Free Basics in its biggest African market

Social network giant, Facebook, has launched its Free Basics service in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country—and its biggest market on the continent. The platform which allows users to access listed websites at no cost was launched in partnership with Airtel, the country’s third largest telecoms operator with almost 34 million subscribers.

Free Basics is part of Facebook’s initiative which aims to provide internet access to the two-thirds of the world without it and the company says the project has helped bring 25 million people online globally. In Nigeria, where it has 16 million users, the high price of dataremain an impediment to internet access despite growing smartphone penetration.

Users will get free access to a lite Facebook via Facebook Flex.

“We’ve spent time with the developer community here in Nigeria to understand how we can help people here build and create for their communities, and by bringing Free Basics to Nigeria we hope to provide another platform for developers to bring relevant services to people free of charge,” Ime Archibong, Director of Global Product Partnerships at Facebook, said in a statement.

“We believe that local entrepreneurs and developers will be the ones to meet the needs of their immediate community, and we are working with developers to know how we can support them in doing so,” he said.

Nigeria is the seventh country Airtel and Facebook have launched Free Basics in since 2014, following Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Seychelles and Rwanda.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our nation’s drive towards deepening digital connectivity and enhancing mobile broadband access for millions of Nigerians in line with the key objective of Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (NBBP),” said Segun Ogunsanya, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria.