Facebook Inc is launching a mobile app that gives users in Zambia free access to a handful of online services on mobile phones, broadening an effort to boost Internet usage in underdeveloped countries.
The Internet.org app will offer, in partnership with wireless operator Airtel, more than a dozen services including online encyclopedia Wikipedia, websites devoted to weather, job listings and health information, as well as Facebook's own social network and messaging service.
This development is very important because it again underlines the important role that Facebook is playing in the march of freedom. We increasingly seeing the old ways of old African leaders challenged. Many have focused on controlling the news media and clamping down on access to internet.
Zambians want freedom and transparency. The match for free expression and democracy will not be stopped especially with global corporations like Facebook pushing for more openness.
It is actually ironic that Zambia which has long maintained a propagandist public media through the shameful Daily Mail and Times of Zambia, should become a first in Facebook's global initiative. As a result we will continue to see people are finding new ways to interact and fight for the cause of un-mediated debate on Facebook.
The power of information is unstoppable. We are not many years too far away before nearly every Zambian has access to some form of new media. We are not there yet but the time is coming sooner than many people think. And we shall be here to celebrate it. That is the new face of democracy. The only answer to it is for our governments to reform and embrace democratic openness or be swept along with the unstoppable tide.
Economist | Consultant | Researcher
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