Marketing Free Knowledge on Mobile in Africa

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Free Wikipedia poster from Orange in Kampala
Free Wikipedia poster from Orange in Kampala

Over the last few months, we have written several blog posts about the launch of our mobile partnerships to provide access to Wikipedia without incurring data charges, so I thought it would be a good idea now to describe what one of these partners is doing to promote our common program. Orange Uganda is a great example.
Orange Uganda was the first Orange affiliate to launch the free access program we announced together in January. Since April 4, Orange customers in Uganda have been able to access Wikipedia on their mobile phones without accruing any data fees. Our shared philosophy is that this should remove barriers to knowledge access, giving people who previously may not have been able to access Wikipedia the opportunity to do so now.
This raises an interesting challenge in itself, though: how do you communicate the offer of free knowledge to the masses, many of them who have never used Wikipedia before and may not know what it is? Businesses deal with marketing products and services all the time, but promoting the availability of knowledge without cost is a creative endeavor that we need to pursue together with our mobile partners.
Orange’s approach in Uganda has been through an “upgrade your knowledge” campaign that is blanketed throughout the country. They’ve put up over 100,000 flyers, 100 street pole posters (pictured), and noticeboards at 11 universities. In addition, they’ve even run radio ads. All this helps get the word out about free knowledge, and for many people in Uganda, it may be the first time they’ve heard of Wikipedia. In an ideal scenario, someone who doesn’t have internet access at home may see one of these messages, turn on their phone’s browser, and look up their first Wikipedia article.
We’re planning to do similar outreach with a number of our current and future partners. If you’re in one of these countries and you come across any of these materials, let us know, or snap a picture and send it to us. Also, tell us your ideas – how would you market free knowledge on mobile?
Amit Kapoor, Senior Manager, Mobile Partnerships

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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