IDEAS Insights Net Neutrality & Development - lessons from Zambia - Page 5

In July 2014, Zambia became the first country to officially provide free, ‘basic’ internet access through internet.org’s platform, in an attempt to resolve the lack of cable infrastructure and boost internet penetration rates. The organisation’s mobile application (which, in a symbolic move, has since been renamed to ‘Free Basics’) operates as an open door to websites including AccuWeather, Facebook Zero, Messenger, and Ebola FAQs by UNICEF, along with a cluster of locally-specific applications such as Zambia Reports, Go Zambia Jobs, Kokoliko, Zambia uReport, and eZeLibrary. The mobile app – developed by Facebook in partnership with local mobile operators – proved to be a vast improvement for internet users, with its free access to popular services facilitating job searching, communication, news reading and civic engagement, among other essential everyday activities. Fig. 2: Snapshot of a Zambian user accessing the internet.org Free Basics app 3