Aug 01, 2014 04:57 AM EDT
Internet users in one African nation will now have greater access to the web thanks to Facebook's work in expanding access to impoverished people in the country. This could be the first step in a larger project to expand free Internet access to the poor around the world.
The app, called Internet.org, went live on Thursday, according to ABC News, and has begun helping Zambians access the Internet. The new app will give user free, limited access to the Internet, without worrying about data plan costs.
"We hope to bring more people online and help them discover valuable services they might not have otherwise," the Facebook announcement said, reports ABC News.
Subscribers of Airtel in Zambia will be the ones to first enjoy the new program; however, Facebook plans to expand the project to other parts of the world and bring the Internet "to the next 5 billion people," according to PC magazine.
"We believe that every person should have access to free basic Internet services - tools for health, education, jobs and basic communication," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a Facebook status on Thursday.
In the post Zuckerberg explains his company's work to bring Internet to the poor and how they have managed to do so for 3 million people. Only 15 percent of Zambia's population has access to the Internet, Zuckerberg wrote, but the program will allow more people to use the web "and means Zambia will now be the first country where we've been able to provide a whole set of free basic services."
"Soon, everyone will be able to use the internet for free to find jobs, get help with reproductive health and other aspects of health, and use tools like Facebook to stay connected with the people they love," Zuckerberg added.
The app will give users access to various different sites, according to Tech Crunch, including: Facebook; Facebook Messenger; Google Search; AccuWeather; Airtel; eZeLibrary, which has information on the Zambian government; Facts for Life (by UNICEF); Go Zambia Jobs, a job-finding website; Kokoliko, another job-finding website; MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action); WRAPP (Women's Rights App); and, Zambia uReport (by UNICEF), which provides information on HIV and AIDS.
Tech Crunch adds that if the app proves a success, it will be implemented in other African nations as well as countries in Asia and South America.
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