Orange has partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation, in order to provide free access to Wikipedia mobile through Orange’s network in Africa and the Middle East regions. This means that more than 70 million Orange subscribers will soon have access to Wiki without incurring any data charges on their mobiles, irrespective of the tariff plan they are on. This major partnership is designed to make knowledge more easily available to Orange mobile customers, throughout Africa and the Middle East. In the first partnership of its kind for Wikipedia, Orange and the Wikimedia Foundation will provide customers in both remote and urban areas of AMEA with access to Wikipedia.

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This will be gradually launched throughout 2012, across 20 African and Middle Eastern countries, where Orange operates, with the first markets launching early in the year. The initiative is part of the Wikimedia Foundation's mobile strategy that aims to reach the billions of people around the world who access the iInternet solely through mobile devices. Any customer with an Orange SIM and mobile Internet enabled phone will be able to access the Wikipedia site, either through their browser or an Orange widget. They can access the Wikipedia encyclopedia services for as many times as they like at no extra charge, as long as they stay within Wikipedia’s pages. Marc Rennard, Group Executive Vice President, AMEA also stated in the press release, “In countries where access to information is not always readily available, we are making it simple and easy for our customers to use the world’s most comprehensive online encyclopedia.

We feel this is a great initiative from both sides and maybe later down the road, Wikimedia should expand this program to other countries as well. Since Wikipedia is open for anyone and everyone to add and share knowledge, there shouldn’t be data charges when one wants to access this information from their mobile. Nowadays, with smartphones becoming second nature, programs like this will only encourage the proliferation of technology, so one can be connected to the rest of the world no matter where they are.

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