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This Is How Badly Facebook Wants To Be In Africa

This Is How Badly Facebook Wants To Be In Africa

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Africa is notoriously difficult for outsiders to crack.

That’s how asset analyst Chris Gilmour in South Africa describes getting a foothold on the continent, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook is one of many major companies trying to gain customers in Africa and it has gone the distance to promote itself there. How far? To infinity and beyond. Well, maybe that’s overstating it but Facebook works through satellites in space beaming the Internet down on sub-Sahara.

What are the issues Facebook is facing in Africa, and how it’s tackling them? Here’s how badly Facebook wants to be in Africa.

Source: Bloomberg.com, Telegraph.co.za

Facebook Lite Android app, aimed at smartphone users in emerging markets. (Photo: Facebook)
Facebook Lite Android app, aimed at smartphone users in emerging markets. (Photo: Facebook)

A major untapped audience

Facebook has 1.55 billion active users as of 2015, according to Statista.com, and 120 million are in Africa. Facebook looks to get its next billion users from Africa, Bloomberg.com says.

scoop.it
scoop.it

The obstacles

One of the reasons Facebook has struggled to gain members in Africa is that most individuals access Internet on their mobile phones, and the social media app uses too much data. The second issue is that the continent only has a handful of established Internet companies with dependable towers, as Internetsociety.org reports.

africanbusinessmagazine.com
africanbusinessmagazine.com

Short-term phones

Africa’s dependency on mobile phones poses one more issue for Facebook: most phone companies on the continent do not offer low-cost plans to incentivize users to stay with them, says Bloomberg. In other words, Africans cycle through many phones quickly, making it less likely they’ll keep the Facebook app with each new device.

bbc.co.uk
bbc.co.uk

Working with phone providers

Facebook is tackling this short-term phone issue by partnering with local phone companies in Africa, enlisting them to offer more long-term, low-cost plans, says Telegraph.co.uk.

Ogilvy.co.za
Ogilvy.co.za

A new office

Facebook has opened a new sales office in Johannesburg, South Africa. The office is headed by Nunu Ntshingila, former chairwoman of the highly successful ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. Ntshingila hopes to encourage businesses to promote on Facebook.

news.yahoo.com
news.yahoo.com

Facebook Lite

Another way Facebook will encourage mobile phone users in Africa to get on their site is by offering Facebook Lite, a low-bandwidth app that lets Facebook run on a small amount of data, Bloomberg.com says.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook. Photo: memeburn.com Facebook-Zuckerberg-e1328799857575
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook. Photo: memeburn.com

They’re offering free data

To combat the issue of expensive data on mobile phones, Facebook is offering Internet.org, a system that gives mobile Facebook users free airtime, specifically while on the social media site.

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

Facebook satellites

Internet.org works through satellites. Facebook is launching a satellite named Amos-6 that will provide much of sub-Saharan Africa with Internet while it is in orbit, Theguardian.com reports.

Pixabay.com
Pixabay.com

Not entirely selfish

Internet.org doesn’t only give users access to Facebook.com. The satellite-based system lets users access BBC News, Facebook Messenger, Google Search, Wikipedia, Facts for Life and UNICEF, says Telegraph.co.uk.

mobile payments
Shutterstock

A study in advertisement

Facebook is researching what sorts of ads appeal to an African audience, since that is how it generates most of its revenue, according to Recode.net.

135199855 facebook logo reflected in glasses
Getty

Mobile ads

Facebook is also designing tools that will let it create ads optimized for mobile phones, says Telegraph.co.uk.

dignited.com mark zuckerberg, Facebook_fb_mission_communike-com
dignited.com

Have Facebook’s efforts been working?

Facebook’s efforts have been working. Users in Africa increased by 20 million from 2014 to 2015, according to Telegraph.co.uk.

 

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