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MTN Ghana, with support from the Ministry of Education, has become the country?s first mobile operator to offer free access to logo

The service, which is part of Wikimedia Foundation?s Global Wikipedia Zero initiative, would enable MTN customers to access information on Wikipedia without data charges.

A statement signed by Mrs Cynthia Lumor, Corporate Services Executive, said as part of its vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world to its customers, MTN was proactively providing new ways for customers to benefit from the digital revolution.

It said customers, by participating in the Wikipedia Zero initiative, would have the ability to access the free knowledge available on Wikipedia without worrying about data charges.

The statement said the initiative, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, was the largest collection of free knowledge ever assembled.

“Across its 287 language versions Wikipedia contains more than 33.5 million articles, attracting nearly half a billion unique visitors every month and more than 20 billion monthly page views, actively edited every month by about 80,000 volunteers dedicated to making knowledge free,” it said.

Mr Rahul De, Chief Marketing Officer of MTN, said Wikipedia Zero would provide opportunity for children, students and professionals to learn more and enhance their knowledge.

Mr De said; ?Wikipedia Zero removes the data cost barrier for our customers to access educational material.?

He said data from the International Telecom Union (ITU), indicated that only 4.27 per cent of Ghana?s population was using the internet in 2008.

He said by 2011 that figure had increased to 14.11 per cent, about 24 million people, indicating mobile cellular subscriptions in the country increased from 130,045 in 2000 to 17,436,949 in 2010.

“The number of mobile phone users in Ghana also rose to 29,990,581 at the end of October 2014 according to the regulator, National Communications Authority (NCA),” he said.

Mr De said this rapid growth represented a significant opportunity for mobile subscribers in Ghana to retrieve information from Wikipedia and also increase its volume of content about the country that would not only be relevant to Africans but also to the world.

Mr Rexford Nkansah, Team Leader of the Wikimedia Ghana User Group, expressed excitement about the opportunity to share Ghana with the world and the world with Ghana.

?Providing access to Wikipedia for free will be a great avenue to share the benefits of Wikipedia with the people of Ghana,” he said.

He said Wikimedia survived purely on volunteerism and in a country like Ghana where it was sometimes difficult to afford data for mobile, convincing people to join the editing community through mobile at zero charge would not be difficult.

The introduction of Wikipedia Zero would also enable the many educational institutions in Ghana to tap into the vast information available on Wikipedia for education and research, while students, who do not have enough funds to access the Internet regularly, would not be barred from gaining knowledge from Wikipedia.

The Ministry of Education commended MTN for raising the bar in free access to quality online educational content for students and professionals across the country.

It expressed the hope that it would go a long way to close the knowledge gap between students in Ghana and those from the developed world.



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