Social media is about to sweep across the continent of Africa.
Orange is rolling out an innovative service aimed at making Facebook accessible on any phone across the “Orange footprint” in Africa.
The move is laudable in no shortage of ways, but the ability to make new forms of communications more readily available in Africa is one of the most important attributes of the effort.
Orange is the first operator in the region to use USSD technology, a low-bandwidth data service that is accessible from even the most basic phones, to create access to social networking.With Facebook via USSD, Orange is providing mobile access to the service to millions of customers in Africa, many potentially for the first time.
But here’s what’s most significant: Facebook via USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) allows all Orange customers to access the service, regardless of the phone that they are using. Even users with older or very basic handsets without an internet connection or data plan will be able to stay in touch with their family and friends on Facebook through a simple and affordable text-based service.
“Social networks such as Facebook have completely changed how people stay in contact with their family and friends, and it’s important that our customers, regardless of the phone they have, are able to access and participate in these services,” said Xavier Perret, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Orange. “We feel that it is our role to help our customers enjoy a digitally rich, connected life, and services such as Facebook via USSD this make that possible for even more of our customers.”