Facebook is set to open its first African offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July 2015. Nicolas Mandelsohn, Facebook’s Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa told that Africa “is one of the places where our next billion users are coming from. It would be a massive missed opportunity. Africa matters”.
The sales office will be lead by Nunu Ntshingila, currently the chairman of WPP P1c’s Oglivy & Mather agency in South Africa.
One of the major obstacles Facebook will face in the region is the high cost of data, whilst mobile Internet is thriving in the region, many tend to shy away from the exorbitant prices. Smartphones are also sparse due to their high cost meaning many people tend to opt for the cheaper less capable devices known as feature phones. It means that also due to the fact that very few people have a fixed Internet connection Facebook’s original website and its mobile site are not easily accessible to the general population.
To combat the issue of high data cost and low signal, Facebook plans to work with local mobile-phone companies offering what they call internet.org which will provide people will with free Internet access to Facebook and a few other sites. It also plans to introduce the Facebook Lite app which will use less bandwidth meaning less data will be needed to access the new app.