How the expansion of Facebook in Africa is promoting new hubs like ‘Silicon Valley’ in Nigeria

Now, four years later, the social media giant recently announced that its first Facebook office will open in Lagos in the second quarter of 2021, further bolstering the area’s reputation as “Silicon Valley in Nigeria”.

Facebook also revealed more details about its expansion plans to tap Africa’s 1.2 billion-strong market, including new tech hubs for startup development and the construction of 37,000 kilometers of underwater internet cable, which will circle the entire continent.

CNN’s Eleni Giokos spoke with Nunu Ntshingila, Facebook’s regional director for Africa, to explain how the company has encouraged a growing audience and what the platform’s expectations are in the African continent.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Eleni Giokos: The pandemic certainly taught us that we don’t necessarily have to be physically in the office every day. Does Facebook have a global strategy to get people back to the office in the future?

Nunu Ntshingila: I think we’ve had ups and downs, and I think right from the start, we saw that a lot of people were really excited about working from home. We have also come to see the unintended consequences. And this is a global phenomenon. How do we ensure that this is not a sprint? This is a marathon.

Nunu Ntshingila, Facebook & # 39;  s head of Africa

This is something that Mark Zuckerberg has talked about a lot – the idea that we could actually be looking at talent in many parts of the world. And I think that is a very positive outcome of the period that we have just been through.

EG: How much has Facebook grown since the opening of its first hub in Sub-Saharan Africa?

NN: In sub-Saharan Africa alone, we have grown by more than 50 million over time. These are new users who will use our platform very differently. These are companies that are now coming to our platform to grow their own business and find new customers. So yes, we have seen exponential growth in terms of users just across our entire range of platforms – be it Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

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EG: It’s almost a vote of confidence that Lagos will become one of the most important tech start-up cities on the continent. Is that what you expect?

NN: We can already see that. We made this investment because we already see how active the start-up community is there. We have one of the largest developer ecosystems based on that market. We actually thought it was important to us to ensure that the talent hub grows and that we continue to build our neighbors.

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EG: Connectivity was one of the biggest challenges. And I know you participated in the laying of one of the longest cables bringing the Internet to the continent, increasing bandwidth in Africa. Would you say that was part of the main mandate of getting you more users?

NN: The biggest barrier to entry is that of connectivity. This is a partnership with many of our global telco partners, where we will build a marine cable that will go around the continent. And we expect this to be completed in 2023. What we’re trying is to expand 4G access, 5G access and broadband to millions more people than we currently serve. The sea cable will land in 16 countries. And once completed, it will be the largest submarine cable going around the continent.

EG: How important is the African market to Facebook?

NN: We believe that Africa will continue to play an important role for Facebook in the future. This is one of the youngest continents in the world. If you just think about it, there are 1.2 billion people in this region, there are a lot of people that we continue to serve. we are excited to see how Facebook will develop in the future. I have been lucky enough to work in this region and have started to develop what Facebook will look like in the future. And so far it has been an incredible ride.

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