In a move seen as the social network giant move to grow its revenue from advertisements in Africa, Facebook is opening its office in Johannesburg, South Africa. Among other duties, the Facebook office will be tasked with encouraging African businesses to advertise on the social network.
Facebook is partnering with governments, telecom companies, and agencies among other stakeholders. The company has recognized that about 80 percent of Africans access Facebook from their mobile phones. Hence, the company wants to encourage advertisers to deliver content that care mobile optimized. For this reason, Facebook has set up a new African sale team, led by one Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke, best known for her role in the construction of the Ogilvy’s network in sub-Saharan Africa. Nunu and her team will be helping advertisers to structure better their ads to appeal to the African Facebook users.
The Facebook sales team will start with sub-Saharan Africa countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya.
In a statement, Ari Kesisoglu, the regional director for Facebook in the Middle East and Africa, said: “We are committed to creating solutions tailored to people, businesses and specifically for African markets.
Our priority for the next few months is to continue the work we are already doing with some clients in this region. We will work more closely with businesses and agencies to understand the challenges so that we can build solutions that help grow their business.”
The African continent is home to over a billion people. Facebook see this number as a very potential ad revenue market, given that by 2014 the number of Africans actively using the social network stood at 20 percent. The company expects this number to grow bigger with time and as the cost of internet connection drops. More people are also getting smartphones and abandoning feature phones. Thus, they will be able to enjoy the richer experience the Facebook mobile apps has in store.
It would also be worthy to note that Facebook has been investing quite significantly in technology development across Africa. Take, for instance, the Internet.org, which is Facebook’s global program to connect more people to the internet at a much-reduced cost. This program saw the development of the Facebook mobile app that gives users in developing countries free access to some basic web resources and sites for free on mobile networks.
The Internet.org initiative also plans to provide Internet access to regions in developing worlds that are entirely not connected. The internet service will be provided using drones, lasers, and satellites. Back in March 2015, Facebook was reported to be testing solar-powered drones made by Ascenta. These drones are developed to beam down laser-guided internet signals to users on the ground. The illustrated drone had a wingspan longer than that of a Boeing 737 and weight less than your average car. It has solar panels attached to its wings and should power the drone’s flight to an altitude of up to 60,000 feet for months at a time.
The social network founder, Mark Zuckerberg was in February 2015, quoted saying that advertising on the Internet.org platform is not yet a priority. Largely because the ad market in Africa and most other developing world market is still relatively small.