Wikipedia initiates 'article-on-SMS' service aimed primarily at African users
London: Wikipedia has reportedly initiated ' article-on-SMS' service, in which articles will be sent via text messages, and the service is aimed primarily at African users.
The online encyclopedia site, in partnership with Airtel, will offer the free initiative, called Wikipedia Zero, which is currently being tested in Kenya.
Technical partner manager for the Wikimedia Foundation, Dan Foy said that the trial will be active for three months.
Foy explained that throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule, which means that billions of people currently cannot see Wikipedia on their
phones, the BBC reports.
Users will have to dial *515# to activate the service after which a text message will prompt them to search for articles.
Editor of the African technology news website HumanIPO, Tom Jackson welcomed Wikipedia's move and said that there has been a steady move towards putting educational material online in many African countries, led mainly by the private sector rather than governments.
However, Jackson pointed that, access to the internet remains a problem given that most Africans surf on their phones rather than browsers.
He added that Wikipedia's initiative increased the chances of access, especially as there is functionality to provide Wikipedia via SMS and because feature phones are still dominant in Africa, it will be a helpful addition.