Facebook just released a press release announcing that their Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, is visiting Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal this week to explore opportunities for the American social media giant.
Cox will visit the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, a Ghanaian startup university of sorts that focuses on producing entrepreneurs and companies by training, investing and mentoring those it admits. He attended some events there.
In Nigeria, Cox is speaking at Social Media Week in Lagos about the future of media as well as meeting Nigerian entrepreneurs and content creators there.
Ghana, along with Nigeria, Kenya and Ivory Coast have for a few years now been considered the new frontier economies of Africa’s digital opportunity, so it makes sense why the Facebook executive would want to explore opportunities for growth in Ghana.
Senegal, even though not one of the KINGS, has been in the news the past couple of months for some interesting initiatives. The Francophone (and maybe that’s why we don’t hear much about it coz we spend time on the English web) country is building a US $120million “Diamniadio Technology Park”, funded by the government and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
In Africa, Facebook has focused on luring the continent’s population to its platforms using free internet, with the message that the internet is a basic human right. Nearly half of the countries on the continent have adopted the company’s Free Basics. All three countries Cox is visiting – Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria – have free basics.
As a platform, Facebook and its sister apps, especially WhatsApp, is seen as eating away voice revenue for traditional telecoms businesses. Governments on the continent have also started suggesting they are looking for a way to tax apps like Facebook because the traditional tax revenue they were getting from telecoms operators has been on the decline.