You probably heard Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire Facebook founder and all round nice guy, visited Lagos yesterday. With the fanfare all over Twitter and Facebook, you’d think Beyonce came to town or some Hollywood movie star. But let’s face it, Mark is that much of a big deal. Zuckerberg said he was in Nigeria to listen and learn and take ideas back to California on how Facebook can better support tech development and entrepreneurship across Africa. That is pretty much validation that Nigeria is on top of the food chain when it comes to innovative tech ideas across Africa. While he was here in Lagos, he took the time to visit Yaba (Nigeria’s Silicon Valley), see some young and promising developers around town, visit Nollywood, crash a music video shoot and even took a jog on Ikoyi Bridge. The guy gets around!
First on his itinerary was his visit to CcHUb to witness a “Summer of Code Camp” for kids to learn how to code and develop apps and met with developers like Temi Giwa, who runs a platform called Life Bank that makes blood available when and where it is needed in Nigeria. It is ideas like this that truly solve problems in the country and it is inspiring to see so many people doing their bit to innovate in this space. Zuckerberg stated that he was delighted in visiting Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time and loved the energy of the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem.
Next on the list, Zuckerberg visit Andela, a company the “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative” invested in earlier this year after being impressed in the company’s innovative model of learning and its drive to connect the global technology ecosystem with the most talented developers in Africa. Andela is an organization that handpicks talented technologists in Africa and over the course of four years in their technical leadership program transforms them into world class developers. Seni Sulyman, Director, Andela Lagos, said:
We are excited and honored to welcome Mark Zuckerberg to Lagos. His visit reinforces not only his support of Andela’s mission, but his belief that indeed the next generation of great technology leaders will come out of Lagos, Nigeria and cities across Africa. Andela has created a platform for passionate, driven software developers and engineers to break into the global tech ecosystem, but the barriers to entry are still very high. Mark’s visit demonstrates to all Nigerian developers and entrepreneurs that they’ve caught the attention of the tech world, and they are capable of succeeding on a truly global level.
Mark ended the day by stopping by an Express WiFi stand in Lagos owned by Rosemary Njoku. Facebook’s Express WiFi lets entrepreneurs like Rosemary set up a hot spot to help their community access apps and services built by local developers
All in all, I’d say the Zuck enjoyed his stay in Nigeria and hopefully we will see more and more tech entrepreneurs and leaders outside the country visiting our shores and partnering with our innovative tech pioneers to solve problems in our own context. Here is the video to a talk he gave to a room full of developers and entrepreneurs where he spoke about his experiences on visiting and answered a bunch of questions. It is over an hour long but it is quite interesting (who knew Zuckerberg could be so humorous). And yes, because I know the only question you needed answered was this: He tried Nigerian Jollof Rice and Pounded Yam and Egusi and he loved it, even the snails.