News Column

Tanzania Tigo subscribers get free access to Facebook

April 27, 2014

CHRISTABEL LIGAMI, Special Correspondent -1

Tanzanian mobile operator Tigo has entered into a deal with Facebook that gives its subscribers free access to Facebook in English and Kiswahili.

This is the first time that Facebook will be free on any mobile network in East Africa, Tigo general manager Diego Gutierrez said.

"Tigo customers can  access Facebook through their handsets without incurring any data charges, and connect with the social media network's two million users in Tanzania and 1.2 billion users worldwide," said Mr Gutirrez.

In Tanzania, the brand Tigo was launched in 2006 after Millicom International Cellular dcided to take full control of its Tanzanian network operator MIC Tanzania Ltd (Mobitel), by buying out its local shareholders.

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 East, Central and Southern African region.

Unique partnership

"Facebook has been a fantastic driver of data on mobile networks," said Mr Gutirrez.

"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."

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

The new service is expected to open new frontiers to Tanzanians and to other Kiswahili speakers by offering them new business, educational and other socio-economic opportunities across the world.

With this launch, Tanzania, a country recognised for being the cradle of Kiswahili language, becomes the first in the region to showcase this language globally, a breakthrough that Tigo, its parent company Millicom and Facebook take credit for.

This is the second collaboration between Facebook and Millicom; in December 2013, the companies jointly launched free mobile access to Facebook with Tigo Paraguay, in English as well as in the native Guarani language.

"We're excited to be working with Tigo again to give more people in Tanzania the ability to share and connect free of data charges across Facebook apps and mobile website, and now in the traditional language of Kiswahili,"  said Nicola D' Elia, Facebook director for international growth and partnerships.

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Source: East African, The