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”.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.