Wikipedia Zero is an initiative started by the Wikimedia Foundation to create partnerships with mobile carriers who provide access to Wikipedia free of data charges. On February 14, 2014, MTN South Africa, one of four cellular carriers addressed in an open letter by a class at Sinenjongo High School in South Africa announced via a YouTube video that they would provide access to Wikipedia without data charges via the Opera Mini browser. They are the first South African operator to do so, and the first to answer the Sinenjongo High School students’ plea.
From the video:
“Hi. This is an open letter to the youth of South Africa, and the students of Sinenjongo High School in Cape Town. You recently shared a video asking South Africa’s cellular networks to give their customers free access to Wikipedia. We think this is a wonderful idea. We know that many schoolchildren in this country don’t have access to research material, which can make excelling at school so much more difficult. That’s why MTN is proud to be the first South African cellular network to make Wikipedia free. Free Wikipedia means access to a wealth of knowledge on just about every topic, giving a boost not only to schoolchildren, but to our whole education system of South Africa. We hope that by changing one small thing, we can change everything. To the learners of Sinenjongo High School, who sparked the initiative, we would like to thank you immensely. Thank you.”
As well, the video was published as a response to a NekNomination from Five Roses Tea (a NekNomination being a sort of random-act-of-kindness that evolved from a drinking game in South Africa).
We applaud MTN South Africa for taking a leadership role in support of education. What is a “small thing” to MTN can have huge positive benefits for South African students and ultimately for the whole country. That is corporate social responsibility at its best. We hope MTN’s response will inspire other carriers to embrace their leadership potential as critical ICT providers in support of societal development in their own countries.