Submissions/Wikipedia Zero in South Africa: Case Study

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 3047
Title of the submission
Wikipedia Zero in South Africa: Case Study
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Carolynne Schloeder
E-mail address
CSchloeder (WMF)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Foundation
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Wikipedia Zero engages mobile operators to support the free knowledge movement. In much of the Global South, mobile phones are the only means of internet access, yet many people cannot afford data charges. The program entails offering mobile subscribers access to Wikipedia free of data charges, extending our reach to people who could not otherwise afford access.

Last year Sue Gardner showed a video of students in Sinenjongo High School, Joe Slovo Park, Cape Town, reading an open letter they had written to all of the mobile operators in South Africa asking for free access to Wikipedia: In that video, the students described how their school does not have a library and that they rely on Wikipedia for their studies and research. They had heard that carriers offer free access to Wikipedia in Kenya and Uganda, and they asked the South African carriers to extend the program to South Africa, too. Since then, MTN joined the Wikipedia Zero project to provide free access to Wikipedia in South Africa.

After entering the Wikipedia Zero partnership, MTN South Africa decided to include Wikipedia in their formal educational outreach program. MTN, in collaboration with the South African Ministry of Basic Education, is distributing tablets featuring Wikipedia, along with digitized school books, in rural areas of South Africa. This is a great example of how the Wikipedia Zero team and local Wikimedia communities are working with mobile operator partners to raise awareness of Wikipedia in schools, as part of the operators’ corporate social responsibility programs.

We will discuss how the Wikipedia Zero team worked with MTN over the past year to offer free access to Wikipedia in South Africa in response to the Sinenjongo High School students. We will also talk about the expansion of the project, educational outreach in other regions and how we can work with Wikimedia communities to increase reach and impact.

Education Outreach
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
60 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

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  1. Tflanagan (WMF) (talk) 03:41, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
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