Social media giant Facebook, in partnership with telecom operator Vodafone Ghana, has launched an Express Wi-Fi facility in the suburban communities of Ghana. The service aims to offer carrier-grade Wi-Fi to people living in some of the West African country’s remote communities that lack fiber optic cables.
Available locally in Nima, Jamestown, Kanda, Pig Farm, and Abossey Okine in the capital city Accra, the connectivity service, as part of an Internet.org initiative, helps in narrowing the digital chasm between Ghanaians and the internet. Vodafone Ghana CEO, Yolanda Cuba said: “We are effectively saying to the communities where we cannot deploy fiber that there is a solution we can give. And, we are giving connectivity at the cheapest rate in Ghana”.
Vincent Sowah Odotei, Deputy Minister for Communications, while commending both parties for the initiative, said in a televised interview that Facebook and Vodafone’s efforts are in line with the local government’s push to bring more people online.
March 2017, the global technology titan joined forces with Kenya-based ISP Surf to launch an Express Wi-Fi in Kenya, allowing users access affordable data, with a daily data bundle of 40 megabytes for just KES 10. Facebook has rolled out more than 100 Wi-Fi hotspots in the greater Nairobi area, which has been contrived in conjunction with Internet Solutions. Facebook has been tipped to launch this service on the backs of the East African country’s leadership in African innovation.
August 2016, in collaboration with Nigeria-based ISP Coolink, Facebook launched an express Wifi service in different Nigerian locations, bringing high-speed and affordable internet service closer to subscribers. November 2017, the tech giant further partnered with fast-growing ISP startup Tizeti to expand the service to other locations.
During the expansion, Uche Ofodile, Regional Head of Africa, Express Wi-Fi by Facebook, said: “Express Wi-Fi aims to reduce barriers to connectivity such as limited infrastructure and high data costs, giving more people, such as small business entrepreneurs and developers, the opportunity to connect and build community.
Baptized still as Express Wi-Fi, Facebook partnered with ISP Habari Node to launch the service in the Northeastern Tanzania town of Arusha, providing access to no less than 2,600 Tanzanians. While there have been complaints that the company failed to satisfy the geographical coverage requirements, Facebook, last year, said they were working to improve the situation.
Facebook has also launched the express connectivity service in India and Indonesia and is currently believed to be quietly expanding its Free Basics to Morocco and Southeast Asia’s Laos.