Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise visit to Nairobi with the view of acquainting himself with Kenyan innovations. Zuckeberg visited among others the iHub innovation hub, Twiga Foods and Andela on his first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking to Techweez, the CEO said he was looking at the visit as an opportunity to learn from both the local developer and entrepreneur community “Nairobi has a vibrant city with a thriving developer and entrepreneur community. You can feel the energy and passion as soon as you land and I feel there are key lessons to be picked from here”, he said. He also spoke of Facebook’s mission to connect majority of the world without the internet and his investments in education through Andela and Bridge International Schools.
Zuckerberg spoke highly of Kenya’s mobile money ecosystem calling it the most advanced in the world. “I think what you have here with mobile money is something interesting and unique”, he said. “There are lessons to be learnt from how the system works and then work towards spreading the same across the world”, he added. The CEO further noted how mobile money has served as a catalyst for other innovations in the Country. “I had the opportunity of meeting a local startup, Twiga Foods and their idea of collapsing the value chain has been greatly enabled by mobile money”, he said.
On questions on if Facebook would work with local mobile money solutions, Zuckerberg said he hopes such a partnership would happen. “We would approach such a solution from a partnership angle that includes banks and even government. We would be keen to provide parts of the technology as we have done with connectivity”. Facebook’s messenger and WhatsApp solution have been slowly innovating towards becoming avenues for small businesses to engage their customers and the addition of mobile money on the transaction end of things would certainly be a big boon. The same would also apply to mobile money transfer services, where we could probably share send money via these services.
The CEO also spoke candidly of Facebook’s increased focus on the African continent. “Facebook’s mission is to connect all people in the world and Africa has 1 Billion people. If you want to connect all, then you have to lay emphasis on the continent”, he said. “For the past 10 years, Facebook has focused on people already connected to the internet but increasingly, it is growing as an avenue of growing infrastructure and connectivity in the world. As such our mission is to contribute to the spread of this connectivity”. Facebook launched in 2015, internet.org with the mission of spreading the internet to 2/3 of the world without it. Internet.org includes projects such as Free Basics, Project Acquilla and Express Wi-fi all serving this mission.
We also sought to know why he invested in Andela, where his Chan Zuckeberg LLC fund recently pumped in $24 Million. “We believe alot in education and to serve the same through tools that best suit the learners”. Zuckerberg is also an investor in Bridge International Schools. With Andela, Zuckerberg believes the startup has the ability to tap into a large amount of engineering talent within the African continent. On Bridge International Schools, he believes they have the capability to deliver a high quality education for all.