Living in the first world, it can be easy to assume that everyone has access to a smartphone and unlimited data.Websites such as Wikipedia are only an internet search away for most people in such places.
In countries like Afghanistan, though, being able to access a site like Wikipedia is a privilege that some cannot afford.It is why a recent venture between telecommunications company Roshan and Wikimedia is gaining a lot of positive attention.
Wikimedia and Roshan Partnership
The two organizations have signed a partnership that will provide every Roshan customer in Afghanistan with free access to Wikipedia pages on their phones for an entire year.
With most mobile phone packages in the country only providing a limited amount of data, even spending some time on Wikipedia can incur costs for people who may want to keep their bill down.
Now it is possible for Afghanis who get phone service from Roshan to view any Wikipedia page for a year, without worrying about data costs. Since the network is active in every province of the country, it will reach a wide range of the population.
Bringing Knowledge to the Masses
With such a partnership, it appears that Wikimedia is furthering its goal of bringing knowledge to the masses. Wikipedia is unique in the way that it provides a massive record of historical events, persons and other information to anyone with an internet connection.
The concept of information of such a wide variety being easily available for free is a recent concept. People who are growing up in the age of Wikipedia can assume it is how things have always been.
But in the past, online or computerized programs that served as encyclopedias required some form of payment. Wikipedia changed the market when it ensured that its pages were freely available to anyone with internet.
While the site does request donations, as it requires them to stay afloat, users are never required to pay any money for the service.
Wikipedia in Afghanistan
It will be fascinating to see what impact the venture between Wikimedia and Roshan has in the coming months. The company will certainly do its part in marketing the service to its customers, so they are aware they can access the pages without incurring a cost on their data plan.
And it is not the first time Roshan has gotten involved in such a venture. The telecom company has a history of pushing for change by partnering with other tech companies and organizations.
In fact, Roshan was seen as one of the 51 companies changing the world by Forbes Magazine in 2015. It appears Roshan is continuing on this mission in its recent partnership with Wikimedia.
It is unclear if the partnership is a one off for Wikimedia, or whether a concentrated effort will take place to enter into similar partnerships with telecom networks around the developing world.
But one thing is certain, people in Afghanistan who can afford a phone service will have a much easier time accessing the information present on various Wikipedia pages!