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Kenya a top mobile-centric country for Wikipedia access

December 10, 2012  »  MobileNo Comment

Subscribers on the Orange network in Kenya have now had free Wikipedia access for nearly a year. That is, data costs are not incurred when Orange subscribers with mobile Internet-enabled devices visit Wikipedia sites from Kenya, Tunisia, Uganda, Niger, and Ivory Coast. According to the Telkom Kenya CEO, the program is already successful in driving mobile access to Wikipedia.

Indeed, data from October 2012 finds the percentage of Kenyans accessing Wikipedia via mobile to be more than two times the global average. Perhaps Orange Kenya is a contributing factor to this stat, but Kenya’s generally heavy reliance on mobile cannot be ruled out either. Still, Kenya is one of the top five mobile-centric countries for all of Wikipedia.

Also in October 2012:

  • Africa gave 307 million Wikipedia pageviews
  • 43 million pageviews from Africa (16%) were to the mobile site
  • Kenya drove nearly 7% of African Wikipedia traffic
  • There are currently 20,000 Swahili articles on Wikipedia

Wikipedia still has its challenges in attracting African content. Local content growth rates are strong, but they are starting from an extremely low base. For better or worse, most Africans are still reading Wikipedia articles in English, French, or Arabic. African languages are grossly under-represented. The number of Wikipedia edits by Africans is miniscule outside of North Africa or South Africa. We previously found little growth in the number of African Wikipedia editors from 2010 to 2011. Local Wikipedia initiatives and scholars provide some content, but the general public is still largely non-existent. We must remember that as mobile enables access, it also limits Wikipedia article creation. After all, who wants to type a 1,000 word article with citations on an Android device?