Facebook is expanding its free internet service to Malawi, a landlocked African country bordered by Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
Unlike some of the regions in Southern Africa, Malawi has been very open to diplomatic support from the West. It has suffered greatly through the AIDS crisis, with one of the lowest life expectancies and lowest income per capita in the world.
Facebook intends to make Internet.org free in the region, to push Malawi residents away from agriculture and into other jobs. The hope is that through free internet, Malawi will grow into a prosperous nation.
The Internet.org effort is supported by Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung and other local providers. The ambition is to make everything cheaper in the region, from mobiles to chips to partnerships with local suppliers.
Adding India and Indonesia has pushed Internet.org past the one billion people mark, but that doesn’t mean one billion people are actively using the service. In India for example, millions pushed back against Facebook’s free service, claiming it went against net neutrality laws by not offering full internet access for free.
Facebook hit back at these claims, stating it would be incapable of funding full internet access and it is better to have some internet than no internet.