By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
“At Facebook, our mission is to make the world more open and connected. While we still have a long way to go, today we’re excited to announce one indicator that this mission is moving in the right direction: as of June 2014, there are 100 million people coming to Facebook every month across the African continent, with over 80% on mobile.”
Facebook’s optimism on Africa’s potentials and the projects so far being implemented in the continent is a testament to the company’s belief in the African people and the continent. Facebook’s impact is resonating throughout the continent as this social media giant is becoming a platform for Africa’s economic rebirth, with millions of young people now traversing over rigid boundaries to reach out to friends and families, and creating opportunities for themselves in places they would never have dreamt of has it not been for Facebook.
The second-largest and second most populous continent on earth with an estimated population in 2016 of 1.2 billion people, and still growing, Africa is an economic mammoth with a growing youth population desperate for empowerment and better living standards.
To address these growing needs, amidst instabilities and poor infrastructural facilities, Africans, through Facebook, are able to connect to the world and build opportunities, make friends, and better themselves, families, and communities. As such, the impact of this social media platform is beyond imagination as it network continues to spread to the remotest parts of the continent.
Facebook is conscious of Africa’s unquenchable thirst and the visit of the founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, in Kenya and Nigeria, the two countries among the top five Facebook users on the continent, is a testament of the ‘Facebook touch’ as this social media platform continues to build opportunities in Africa.
Efforts and outreaches are also being felt throughout the continent with innovative engagements platforms set up by the company to challenge Africans to showcase their dreams and become the future of IT technology. On April 15, 2016, Facebook announced at its annual F8 developer conference (https://www.FBf8.com), held in San Francisco on 12 and 13 April, that the company partnered with many African developers to launch products for the global market.
Facebook now plans to expand in the continent by adding wifi hotspots and laying fiber-optic cables in a bid to spread its reach outside of developed markets.
Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing, said in Johannesburg on Tuesday that the rollout of wifi and free Internet products in Nigeria and Kenya will be done via partnerships with international wireless carriers such as Emirates Telecommunications Group Co., known as Etisalat, and closely held Surf of Kenya and Coollink.ng of Nigeria.
For the millions of Africans whose dreams are always frustrated by dilemmas: this is a thumbs-up! Facebook is breathing life in the continent once more and the governments and universities must take advantage of the opportunities and make Facebook not only a social media platform, but a tool to improve the lives of the millions of children and women suffering from lack of good water facilities, poor healthcare, and education.
Facebook is slowly evolving from just being a media sharing platform to a life saver and builder of economies. Engagement with community people in hard to reach areas helps restore hopes, especially women and girls, who are aspiring to become tech experts and entrepreneurs in the continent. That is why when Facebook hosted a women’s safety roundtable in Kenya on February 10, 2016 with participants from NGOs, academia, women’s rights groups, and safety organisations from Kenya and across Sub-Saharan Africa to highlight how the community can work together to create a harassment-free online environment where everyone can feel safe to share and interact, the impact was widespread in the continent.
Facebook shows how innovation can change dreams, nurtures hope, builds peace and provides opportunities for economic progress for all in society. The impact in Africa is gradually changing the views of young people as the platform enables awareness raising on social and political issues, promotes engagements, lobbying, and advocacy, for social and economic change.