Response to misleading reports about Wikipedia Zero

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There have been some misleading reports in the South African media claiming that free access to Wikipedia will be ending in 2018.

To clarify, Wikipedia, and all the other projects operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, such as Wikimedia Commons, WikiVoyage and Wiktionary, will always be available free of charge to all.

Instead, what is ending is the Wikipedia Zero project, which aimed to reduce a key barrier to accessing Wikipedia - that of high mobile data costs. Wikipedia Zero forged partnerships with mobile operators to waive mobile data fees for their customers to freely access Wikipedia on mobile devices. The project was partly inspired by learners from Sinenjongo High School in Cape Town's Joe Slovo Park, who lobbied the mobile providers to make access to Wikipedia free on their mobile networks.

In South Africa, Wikipedia Zero partnered with MTN for a while to provide access to Wikipedia without mobile data fees on the Opera Mini browser only.

The project is ending due to a significant drop off in adoption and interest in the program, but the Wikimedia Foundation will continue to explore ways to reduce some of the critical barriers to participating in free knowledge globally.

Wikimedia ZA is a non-profit volunteer-driven organisation that functions as the Wikimedia chapter for South Africa. The chapter exists to promote Wikimedia values and projects such as Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, and Wikidata, and to promote those projects in all the official languages of South Africa.

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