ForgetMeNot Africa Powers Congolese Email Service

A mobile email and online chat service is set to double the Republic of the Congos access to internet messaging, using any SMS-enabled mobile phone. Warid Congos Warid Messenger service enables the network’s entire 450,000 subscriber base to send and receive email and online chat messages on their mobile phones, using ForgetMeNot Africas software.

Congo has a highly literate population – UNICEF figures show that adult literacy was at 87 per cent in 2008 – that struggles to access vital information such as healthcare, travel and educational resources. One reason is that only 6.6 per cent of its population of 3.68m use the internet, according to the latest figures from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2009.

Internet connectivity in Congo is still extremely low, even in comparison to the rest of Africa. However, mobile phone subscriptions in the country are booming. ITU figures show that 2.17m Congolese people had a mobile phone subscription in 2009, compared to just 383,700 in 2004. The country now has 89 mobile phone subscriptions to every single fixed telephone line.

The Warid messenger service enables Warid Congo customers to send and receive mobile email and online chat messages on any SMS-enabled handset, bypassing the need for internet access, subscriptions, smartphones, Java downloads or data connections. ForgetMeNot Africa, which provides the service, says that expanding the countrys access to internet messaging via entry level, ultra low-end mobile phones will naturally improve access to information, communications with friends and family, and trade.

In addition to email access, the service also incorporates popular chat services such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Windows Live and Gtalk so that users can send and receive messages and continue to chat online without being connected to the internet.

“Warid Congo is building a bridge over the digital divide for people in Republic of the Congo,” says ForgetMeNot Africa COO, Jeremy George. “The availability of smartphones, laptops and even fixed-line internet connections is very low for this highly literate country. Now by providing affordable access to chat and email services on standard mobile phones, without the need for data plans or expensive handsets.”