Facebook and TIGO

Tigo Tanzania has announced that it is partnering with Facebook to allow its customers to get free access to Facebook services in English and a new Kiswahili version through their mobile handsets. The strategic partnership is part of Facebook’s recent Internet.org initiative launched by the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

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

Gutierrez said: “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 two millions of users in Tanzania and its 1.2 billion users worldwide.

He added: “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.

Facebook is a major driver of data consumption on mobile networks around the world. But many in Africa are yet to join and get to taste the social network.

Guttierrez said “The new service will open new frontiers to Tanzanians and to other Kiswahili speakers by offering them new business, educational and other socio-economic opportunities across the world.”

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

This is the second time Facebook and Millicom have partnered following the joint launch of free mobile access to Facebook with Tigo Paraguay in December 2013 and the service’s launch in the historical native Guarani language there.