US social media giant Facebook has said that “altruism and self-interest” are driving its investment in Nigeria’s tech sector and ICT infrastructure.
It is in Facebook’s interest to improve regional infrastructure to help it thrive beyond its borders, vice-president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg said on Monday.
“Those apps and services are redundant if there isn’t the infrastructure to carry them. I hope it’s good for the world, but it’s also in Facebook’s self-interest to make sure that the infrastructure is significantly improved.”
“Facebook is a business. We want to do things which are good for the world and also which are good for our business,” he said during an event with Nigeria’s vice president Yemi Osinbajo.
The former UK deputy prime minister added that Facebook needs a vibrant innovative digital economy in order to thrive.
“It’s important for people to understand when altruism and self-interest align, and in this case they do. The lifeblood of Facebook is a vibrant innovative economy with people who not only rejoice in their private lives online, but also build businesses online.
“Small and medium size businesses [SMEs] are the lifeblood of the way Facebook operates. We have millions and millions of SMEs, not least in Nigeria, who reach their customers and grow and employ more people through our platform. So the more we can do to boost innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly among SMEs, the better.
Clegg’s comments come as the company announced its entry into the Nigeria market on Friday, with the opening of a software programming office in Lagos in 2021.
The move marks the first time the company will have a team of engineers on the continent, five years after it opened its first advertising office in South Africa. It also follows in the footsteps of Microsoft who opened engineering offices in Kenya and Nigeria last year.
The new office will focus on harnessing the “immense talent” of Africa’s tech ecosystem to build “products for the future of Africa, and the rest of the world, with Africans at the helm,” Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook is hiring in Nigeria
The company launched a recruitment drive last month to hire workers remotely and in Lagos to service its new office.
Job advertisements posted in August and September recruited for roles such as policy programmers and application engineers with experience working on the “physical roll-out of infrastructure projects.”
The Nigeria office builds on Facebook’s plan to install the world’s longest subsea cable around Africa.
In collaboration with local telecom service providers, 2Africa plans to boost the continent’s bandwidth from East to West Africa, and make it cheaper and more accessible for all Africans.
“Its an incredibly ambitious infrastructure project that we hope will be operational by 2024,” said Clegg. “This is all part of our continued interest in investing because our mission is to seek to try and provide services so people can communicate with each other, with family and friends and the world can be more connected than it otherwise would be.”
In 2019, it is estimated that Facebook had 213m users a month in Africa, growing at a rate of 12% in the last 20 years, according to data from the United Nations Population Division.