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Why Mark Zuckerberg is keen on meeting African tech leaders on Nigerian tour

Mark Zuckerberg at the Co-creation Hub Nigeria (CcHUB) in Yaba where he talked to kids at a summer coding camp

Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is visiting Nigeria in his first ever trip to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mark Zuckerberg at the Co-creation Hub Nigeria (CcHUB) in Yaba where he talked to kids at a summer coding camp
Mark Zuckerberg at the Co-creation Hub Nigeria (CcHUB) in Yaba where he talked to kids at a summer coding camp

“Next stop: Lagos! This is my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa. I’ll be meeting with developers and entrepreneurs, and learning about the start-up ecosystem in Nigeria. The energy here is amazing and I’m excited to learn as much as I can,” Mr Zuckerberg posted on his official Facebook page.

“Our first stop is the Co-creation Hub Nigeria (CcHUB) in Yaba. I got to talk to kids at a summer coding camp and entrepreneurs who come to CcHUB to build and launch their apps. I’m looking forward to meeting more people here!”

After visiting the CcHUB innovation center Mr Zuckerberg dropped in at Andela, a software developer accelerator. Earlier this year he and his wife’s foundation invested $24million in this initiative.

“You are all a part of something that’s really important and I thank you for that — it’s awesome to get a chance to meet you,” he told the team there.

Andela’s director Seni Sulyman said they were excited to welcome Mr Zuckerberg to Lagos.

“His visit reinforces not only his support of Andela’s mission, but his belief that indeed the next generation of great technology leaders will come out of Lagos, Nigeria and cities across Africa,” Mr Sulyman said. “Andela has created a platform for passionate, driven software developers and engineers to break into the global tech ecosystem, but the barriers to entry are still very high. Mark’s visit demonstrates to all Nigerian developers and entrepreneurs that they’ve caught the attention of the tech world, and they are capable of succeeding on a truly global level.”

This morning during a meeting with developers and entrepreneurs in Lagos, Mr Zuckerberg said he had wanted to come to Lagos “because of the vibrant developer and entrepreneurial ecosystem that you guys have here.”

Local entrepreneur Rosemary Njoku meets Mark Zuckerberg
Local entrepreneur Rosemary Njoku meets Mark Zuckerberg

Nigeria with its 17 million users, is Facebook’s largest Sub-Saharan African market, followed by South Africa (14 million), and Kenya (5.7 million), Facebook spokesperson Sally Aldous told TechCrunch.

Mr Zuckerberg had a brief meeting with Rosemary Njoku who sells Express Wi-Fi to 3,000 customers.

“Express Wi-Fi empowers entrepreneurs to build a business by providing their community with access to the internet. Facebook designed the technology, and local internet providers add the connectivity. Express Wi-Fi is part of our Internet.org initiative,” he said.

The Facebook boss praised Rosemary saying “she’s a great example of how local entrepreneurs spread internet access around the world.”

Mr Zuckerberg revealed that this week they’ll launch “a satellite into space to enable more entrepreneurs across Africa to sell Express Wi-Fi and more people to access reliable internet.”

He added: “That means more connectivity and more opportunity for entrepreneurs like Rosemary everywhere.”

Mr Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria is focused on understanding how Facebook could “better support tech development and entrepreneurship across Africa,” the company said in a statement.

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