Nigeria is unfortunately always in the news for the wrong reasons. Yes, I know that we have some internal challenges but I am of the opinion that international press usually focuses on the bad stories about our country. That's why I believe that this trip by Mark Zuckerberg is good for the ecosystem, despite his capitalist sensibilities and commercial mindset - it is about value but the value must make economic sense.
With 17 million users, Nigeria is the Facebook's largest Sub-Saharan African market
Below are my thoughts on his visit:
Let's look at some numbers. According to a report published by Tech Crunch; "Facebook has 120 million users in Africa, 84 million of whom are in Sub-Saharan Africa. With 17 million users, Nigeria is the company’s largest Sub-Saharan African market, followed by South Africa (14 million), and Kenya (5.7 million), according to spokesperson Aldous. A particular Africa play by Facebook will be tapping the online advertising market that’s rising with the continent’s shift to digital commerce. Africa’s online sales are expected to top $75 billion on by 2025, with $10 billion of it occurring in Nigeria."
This report simply shows the potentials for any investor who wisely invests in the Nigerian economy. Yes, it is risky and unpredictable but then if you get it right you'll never regret it. This is something I believe Mark has realised and why he decided to visit.
I was with of these young people when Mark walked into CCHub Yaba, he even spared time to listen to what these young folks are doing
The world would suddenly realise that Nigeria is no longer a state in a country called Africa, but the most economically viable market in Africa. Believe it or not, it takes a huge personality like Mark to pull this off and it is going to happen. Did you turn on CNN or BBC or international media in the last few days? If you did then you'd realise that Mr. Zuck visiting Nigeria and walking the streets of Yaba would likely make Silicon Valley realise that this market has great potential.
His visit would for a long time to come serve as a gun powder of inspiration for enterprising youths and techies working day and night to make a difference in one of the world's most difficult operating environments. I was with of these young people when Mark walked into CCHub Yaba, to our amazement - he even spared time to listen to what these young folks are doing.
I'd like to see more physical Facebook presence and investments because, the truth is, that this market is very important for the brand going into the future
I believe government and policy makers should brace up and come up with policies that will encourage the ecosystem at large to develop. For example, the Nigerian Government has to explore ways to see that Facebook also contributes to this market by ensuring they pay taxes and invest more in the Nigerian economy. That is a tall order I know because you need a good infrastructure and relevant skills to be able to monitor all revenues coming from Nigeria.
Another riddle I put before the government and other relevant bodies such as the Federal Ministry of Communications, federal lawmakers; Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and others is simple; how would Facebook Free Basics operate in Nigeria? Are we going to have a national say in what happens or we are just going to stand and act like nothing is going on? How are we going to ensure that Net Neutrality is maintained? India took action so we must as least negotiate with Facebook as Mark has now clearly shown how important this market is to his companies.
Mark and his team at Facebook should TRULY regard Nigeria as a key hub and priority partner. Therefore, I'd like to see more PHYSICAL Facebook presence and investments because, the truth is, that this market is very important for the brand going into the future.
About the author: CFA is the founder of www.techsmart.ng and co-producer/presenter of Tech Trends on Channels Television.
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