It is almost a year since getting into a partnership with Wikipedia which enables its subscribers to have free access to resources of world's largest online encyclopedia without incurring data costs, Orange now confirms that the move has enhanced access to knowledge.
Telkom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein said that the partnership, unveiled with Wikipedia in January this year, is a key differentiator for Orange."At Orange, we want to enhance access to knowledge and spur innovation in the country. The partnership presents a win-win situation for all partners and we have established that 40 per cent of people are getting access to Wikipedia from the Orange network," said Ghossein.
Any subscriber with an Orange SIM card and mobile internet-enabled phone can access Wikipedia, the largest online encyclopedia in the world, through their mobile browser. The users can access Wikipedia services for as many times as they like at no extra charge as long as they stay within Wikipedia's pages.
Users can also freely browse the millions of articles available on Wikipedia in the languages most widely used in Africa (including Kiswahili, Afrikaans and Zulu or in all languages
This move is the result of a major partnership signed in January 2012 between the Orange Group and the Wikimedia Foundation to enable more than 70 million Orange customers in Africa and the Middle East (AMEA region) to have easier access to free knowledge.
By sponsoring the cost of data for its customers, Orange Kenya supports the Wikimedia Foundation's initiative to spread free knowledge to the billions of people around the world whose primary opportunity to access the internet is via a mobile device.
The Orange/Wikipedia partnership covered 21 Orange affiliates globally with six in Africa - namely Kenya; Tunisia; Uganda; Niger; Ivory Coast and.
Amit Kapoor, Wikipedia's mobile partnerships representative, recently said that as regards Wikipedia traffic, about 40 per cent of Kenya's users access the site via mobile devices.
"Based on October 2012 data, about 40 of Kenya's subscribers access Wikipedia from mobile and the country's usage figures are two and a half times higher than the global average. In general, Africa had 307 million page views to Wikipedia out of which 43 million (16.3 percent) were to our mobile site," said Kapoor during a recent visit to Orange Kenya offices.
Within the period, Kenya had 12.6 million page views to Wikipedia, comprising about 6.7 per cent of the Africa traffic total. Within Kenya, of the 12.6 million page views, 5.2 million (41.2% per cent) were to the mobile site.
"This means, on average, Kenya is twice as mobile-centric as the rest of Africa. This also means that Kenya is one of the top 5 most mobile-centric countries for all of Wikipedia's major readership territories," stated Kapoor, adding that although Kenya makes up to 6.7 per cent of Africa total Wikipedia traffic, it accounts for about 2.1 per cent of total Africa Wikipedia mobile traffic.
He added that the deal was hastened by the fact that Wikipedia already had existing relationships with Orange in Europe which were then expanded to other affiliates due to diversity of coverage.
"The benefits of the deal is that it reduces barriers to access as the data costs are scrapped off leading to 15 per cent growth in traffic. Wikipedia is useful to everybody as it promotes life-long education and knowledge sharing," he added.
Ghossein disclosed that Orange is working to ensure that there's more information about Kenya and other African countries on Wikipedia.
"We're working to develop partnerships to encourage local content development. Currently, we've about 20,000 Swahili articles on Wikipedia and we've realized that through the partnership, we've attracted more students to the network who are search for information and conducting research," said Ghossein, adding that Orange has about 670 data users over half of who are mobile users.
Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia containing more than 20 million articles in 280 languages, and with nearly 500 million monthly unique visitors, it is the most comprehensive and widely used reference work humans have ever compiled.
Rendezvous on m.orange.xx and look for the Wikipedia icon at the bottom of the page. Orange subscribers can also access the service directly by pointing their mobile browser to m.wikipedia.org.