In 2015, during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Facebook CEO announced that the company was partnering with Qualcomm, Nokia and others with the view of connecting majority of the world that does not have the internet. The programme was dubbed Internet.org.
Internet.org houses several programs under it which include Free basics, that allows users to access basic web services such as weather reports, Wikipedia, Facebook at no cost. There is also Express Wi-Fi which was launched in India and Nigeria, where Facebook partners with internet service providers to offer cheap internet in different places.
In September 2016, we had an interview with Ime Archibong, Facebook’s director of Product Partnerships. One of Ime’s most prominent roles has been working towards achieving Facebook’s mission of connecting the rest of the world without the internet. We sought to know if Express Wi-Fi will launch in Nairobi, and this is what Ime had to say, “I cannot comment on that but if Kenya is a good fit, we shall definitely consider offering to launch it here”.
Well, it seems like Kenya is indeed “a good fit”. We have learnt that Express Wi-Fi is now available in various parts in the outskirts of Nairobi. One of our forum users, alerted us that he had accessed a wi-fi hotspot with the SSID “SURF – ExpressWiFi by Facebook”.
We immediately followed up, and after doing some digging, we can confidently report that Express Wi-Fi is indeed available in Kenya. Facebook has partnered with a local ISP, Surf, to provide the service. At the moment, you can get 100MB every day for the first 10 days of your usage, free of charge, immediately you sign up with your phone number. After which you will be required to recharge at selected shops in the areas the network is available. The recharge prices are as follows:
40 mb – KES.10
100 mb – KES.20
300 mb – KES.50
500 mb – KES.100
1.25GB – KES.200
3GB – KES.500
According to a source within the company (Surf), the service has run for the past two weeks and is available in the following locations:
- Ongata Rongai
The source also tells us that Surf plans to expand the service to other parts of the country. Hopefully this will happen soon. We have reached out to Facebook for a comment on the same, and we will update you once we have a reply.
The people within the said areas, try out the wi-fi and let us know the speeds and reliability. If Express Wi-Fi expands nationally, this could be the miracle that we have been waiting for.