Afrique Telecom, Eutelsat and Wikimedia France have come together to to extend free access to French-language Wikipedia in sub-Saharan Africa
Afrique Telecom, in combination with Eutelsat’s satellite capacity, is progressively deploying Internet solutions over sub-Saharan Africa. Its ‘TamTam’ service extends access to the Internet in rural areas using wireless hotspots for collective access. In a new step, ‘TamTam’ will be used to offer free access to French-language Wikipedia content to many thousands of users. This initiative, starting in French-speaking Africa, supports Wikimedia France’s strategy to promote free access to educational content, in particular through Wikipedia.
In order to offer free, unlimited access, Afrique Telecom has developed a server located at ‘TamTam’ hotspots that will locally host French-language Wikipedia content. The content will be updated regularly via a satellite link provided by Eutelsat.
Afrique Telecom plans to roll-out ‘TamTam’ to between 4,000 and 8,000 hotspots over the next two years. Eutelsat has agreed to finance servers hosted by the first 1,000 hotspots as a springboard that will also measure the impact of the service.
The Wikimedia movement has made a priority of improving accessibility and content creation on Wikipedia for the countries in the Global South. There is still a large gap between Northern and Southern countries in terms of the number of readers and contributors to Wikimedia platforms as well as content on Southern countries. French-speaking Africa is a priority action area for the Wikimedia France Foundation, as a complement to its Afripédia project.