According to new reports by Bloomberg, Facebook on Thursday announced further plans to expand in Africa by adding Wi-Fi hotspots and laying fiber-optic cables in various countries in a bid to spread its reach outside of developed markets. The plans form part of Facebook’s long-term investment push in Africa, the company’s least developed market with less than 10% of its 1.86 billion users worldwide.
International wireless carriers Emirates Telecommunications, Etisalat, and Surf will be coming together in partnership in order to roll out Wi-Fi in Nigeria and Kenya. This comes after Facebook announced the construction of 770KM of fiber-optic cables in Uganda alongside Bharti Airtel of India earlier this year.
“There is no magic bullet to provide the internet to people on the continent,” Carolyn Everson, Vice President of global marketing said, near the site of Facebook’s new, larger office in Johannesburg.
“We are using everything available to us, including rolling out express Wi-Fi, building fiber, and testing our Aquila project,” she said, referring to unmanned solar-powered planes that beam down internet connectivity.
The California-based company is trying to take advantage of a young population, greater connectivity and the increasing availability and affordability of smartphones to access new customers. Other US companies targeting African growth include Google, which said last month it’s laying fiber-optic cable and easing access to cheaper Android phones.
“People are sensitive to data prices on the continent. Infrastructure is expensive and that is why we are looking for partners,” Everson said. “We are partnering with telecommunications infrastructure projects, and, as a result, bring down the price of data.”
source: Bloomberg and IT News Africa