Mark Zuckerberg’s trip to Nigeria was something that made me kind of wonder how Nigerians could be recovering from such surprise; his first to sub-Saharan Africa, a visit that has now put the nation’s tech businesses firmly in the worlds spot light. Before I delve into the real reason why Nigerian musicians are unhappy with the sixth richest man in the world, I’d attempt to assess what this visit means to us as a country.
First, mark visited Yaba which a lot of people on social media thought was superiority battle won by mainland over the Island..Haha
Mark Zuckerberg strolls into Lagos, Visits Yaba First.
Mainland – 1
Island – 0 pic.twitter.com/EulbryZXMr
— Emeka Obia (@Emeka_talks) August 30, 2016
However, Visiting Yaba didn’t quite come as a surprise as it’s an area popularly known as Nigeria’s Silicon Valley, housing numerous start-ups. Like a lot of entrepreneurs on the continent, the founders of CcHUB have been quietly plugging away before catching the attention of one of the world’s biggest tech founders.
Listening to his short speech about why he was in Nigeria was really inspiring. Watch here
He said: “This is my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa. I’ll be meeting with developers and entrepreneurs, and learning about the startup ecosystem in Nigeria. The energy here is amazing and I’m excited to learn as much as I can.”
Zuckerberg mentioned that he was blown away by the talent and level of energy of the Nigerian youth he saw at the Co-creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos, and that surely reaffirms the belief that the future of Nigeria lies in the hand of its youths.
From talking to kids at a summer coding camp, to meeting with developers, to walking the streets of Lagos without any sign of armed guards or heavy security, to jogging along Ikoyi Bridge; Zuckerberg was the star of the week in Nigeria! He even won over more Nigerian hearts the moment he confessed his love for Nigerian jollof! – Ending a bitter war of supremacy between Nigeria & Ghana Jollof!
Beyond the awesome Jollof. Mark’s visit is a HUGE inspiration to Nigerian entrepreneurs. Especially at a time when figures recently released show Nigeria has officially dipped into recession as its second quarter GDP fell by more than 2% compared to last year.
(Chaiiiii *in patience jonathan’s voice*)
Running a business in Nigeria is one of the toughest thing anyone can imagine – I hear entrepreneurs speak about it all the time with so much frustration. And yet, successful start-ups in Nigeria thrive against the odds of weak infrastructure, anaemic power supply and general lack of funding and investment.
By coming to Nigeria first, he has given a lot of hope to young people entrepreneurs here. Mark’s visit was a much needed external validation of the sweat and immense efforts, mostly unsung, of the young Nigerians who keep pushing the boundaries- And to have Mark show that kind of interest in us is a huge stamp of approval.
It was pleasing to see all the attention his visit got, even from some young people who are rarely excited by much beyond music and entertainment. He’s even most inspiring because his approach to Facebook has really never been about making a lot of money – but more about creating something that’s going to change the world.
During a Q& A streamed live on Facebook, Zuckerberg reiterated his plans to make the company’s tools and apps more affordable for SMEs in the country. He has also made no secret of his interest in Nigerian startups and other African tech industries.
Investing millions of dollars in Andela via the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and launching Free Basics in May, a partnership with a local telecoms provider, which allows people to browse websites for free, is indeed a very alluring prospect in a country where data prices are quite high.
While in Lagos, he also met with leading figures in Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry and talked about how the flourishing industry could be a huge revenue driver for the country (and even posted pictures on his Facebook page. Apparently Mark ignored Donjazzy, Davido, Olamide, 2BABA, MI Abaga,
Young Jon the Wicked producer, Vic’ O and all other heavy weights in the music industry. Whether the Musicians are happy or not, Zuckerberg’s trip across Africa’s leading technology ecosystems is indeed a nod to the rapid growth in potential and prominence of African start-ups.