Mobile Service Provider Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), and Nokia are targeting the socially active youth market in the region with the introduction of free access to Facebook on Asha 501.
Internet access continues to grow in East Africa, driven primarily by high mobile phone usage and stiff competition among the service providers. The growth in mobile data consumption can largely be attributed to the popularity of social media. This craze, particularly amongst the youth market, is encouraging companies to enter strategic partnerships to offer attractive packages and incentives to consumers as they strive to stay ahead of the game.
According to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), there are over 9.49 million Internet subscribers in Kenya alone. Mobile access continues to dominate, representing 99 percent of the total subscriptions.
In the first quarter of this year, the estimated number of Internet users rose by 11.6 percent to reach 16.2million, from 14.5million users in the previous quarter. This increase is attributed to the growing demand for Internet and data services, including the use of social media, especially amongst the youth. Competitive tariffs by the mobile operators are also contributing to the growth.
Based on these market dynamics, the two companies are banking on the combination of colourful, affordable and fun smartphones with free access to Facebook to appeal to the vibrant youth market. These consumers are already active on social media, especially Facebook, which continues to be the most popular social media channel in Kenya. It’s estimated that Facebook in Kenya has over 2.2million users, while Twitter has only around 500,000 users.
Through this partnership, Nokia is looking to grow the Asha user base, while Airtel is targeting to grow its data users. The Nokia Asha 501, which was launched last month is retailing at Shs7,999, UGX 279,900 and TZs 179,900 in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania respectively.
Nokia General Manager for East Africa, Bruce Howe, said the partnership will see Airtel subscribers who purchase the new Nokia Asha 501 smartphone enjoy free access to Facebook for three months. The zero rated Facebook access, which needs to happen via the Facebook application, will start from the first access to Facebook from the Nokia Asha 501.
“The growth of Facebook in East Africa continues to be significant, especially amongst the youth. As a company we see the enormous opportunity in the youth market and we are committed to providing innovative products and added value in this space,” said Howe.
The Nokia Asha 501 is available in a choice of striking colours. Its seamless design comes in just two parts: a durable, removable “shell” and the scratch-resistant, tempered glass display. The compact, easy-to-use Nokia Asha 501 weighs only 98 grams, for the ultimate in portability.
Commenting on the partnership, Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer from Airtel Africa said, “By providing free access to Facebook on the new Nokia Asha 501, we are combining a beautifully designed smartphone, new UI with a simple swipe action and the value add for access to the most popular social network. This highlights Airtel and Nokia’s commitment to deliver great mobile products and services to our valued consumers.”