Facebook Opens Its First Office in Africa

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Facebook opens its first office in Africa

At the end of June 2015, Facebook opened its first office in Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa. The office will be headed by Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke. According to Bloomberg Business, Previous to Facebook Njeke was the Chairman of Ogilvy South Africa (Proprietary) Limited. With her transition away from Ogilvy to Facebook, she remains one of the highest ranking women in communications. During her time at Ogilvy, she handled the accounts of South Africa’s biggest and most well-recognized brands, including DStv, SABMiller, KFC, Cadbury, BP, Volkswagen and Coca-Cola.

Facebook courts Africa’s internet users

The move to Johannesburg is part of a larger strategy to expand Facebook into Africa. According to BBC, “About one in five people in Africa have internet access, but almost double that figure are expected to have mobile internet connections by 2020. About 80% of those who use Facebook in Africa access the site by mobile phone.”

Africa is a prime location for Facebook, “This is one of the places where our next billion users are coming from,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “It would be a massive missed opportunity. Africa matters.” So why has Facebook chosen to locate itself in a continent where access to phones lags behind other unexplored regions? After all, according to Internet Live States, “China, the country with most users (642 million in 2014), represents nearly 22% of total (internet users), and has more users than the next three countries combined (United States, India, and Japan).

Why not expand into China or Russia?

The reason for the discrepancy is China’s “Great Firewall,” which is blocking along with social networks: Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Google, and YouTube, Facebook from operating within its national boundaries. As for Russia, the country is already dominated by native social media giants, which offer many of the same features as Facebook. By process of elimination, Africa becomes Facebook’s greatest opportunity for expansion, which is exactly what Facebook intends to do. “Increasingly marketers are focused on what is the next frontier,” said Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing. “There’s going to be an incredible opportunity to develop a consumer base in Africa.”

Facebook’s diversity problems

The move to Africa comes during a time of lack of diversity in Facebook’s US hubs. According to Facebook’s Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams, over half of Facebook’s employees are white and nearly three fourths of senior leadership is white. Furthermore over three fourths of senior leadership are men.

Conclusion

With the appointment of Njeke, a black woman, perhaps Facebook’s lack of diversity problem will make a move in the direction of increased diversity.

Do you feel that Facebook’s move to Africa is the right one?

Do you feel that the appointment of Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke will lead to better global diversity figures for Facebook?

 

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