African telecom operator Tigo Tanzania will offer free mobile Internet to access social media network Facebook in English and a new Kiswahili version on phones.
Tigo General Manager Diego Gutierrez claims that it is the first time that Facebook will be free on any mobile network in East Africa.
Tigo customers can access Facebook’s two millions users in Tanzania and 1.2 billion users worldwide.
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.
Nicola D’ Elia, Facebook Director for International Growth and Partnerships said that Facebook has been a driver of data on mobile networks.
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.
Earlier, Facebook and Millicom, the parent company of Tigo, partnered to launch free mobile access to Facebook with Tigo Paraguay in December 2013.
Facebook focuses on mobile
Early this week, Facebook said its total revenue grew 72 percent to $2.50 billion in Q1 2014. Its advertising income rose 82 percent to $2.27 billion. Mobile accounted for 59 percent of advertising revenue.
Ad revenue growth was strong around the world, with each of our four geographic regions growing by over 70 percent.
The number of people using Facebook on an average day in March grew to 802 million, up 137 million from a year ago. This daily number represents almost 63 percent of the 1.28 billion people who used Facebook during the month.
Mobile ad revenue was approximately $1.3 billion, compared to around $377 million in Q1 2013. Mobile ad revenue rose 7 percent sequentially, despite the seasonal benefits in Q4. Desktop ad revenue in Q1 was up 8 percent compared to Q1 last year.