Facebook will partner Etisalat and Surf to deepen WiFi connectivity in Nigeria

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Facebook detailed plans to increase access to Wi-Fi hotspots in Africa, as it looks to maintain user growth in the continent and push further into emerging markets.

In an interview with Bloomberg, VP of global marketing Carolyn Everson said the company had increased its African user numbers to 170 million, a figure 42 per cent higher than when it first opened an office in the continent in 2015.

Facebook, which repeatedly expressed its desire to bring internet connectivity to emerging markets, will ramp up Wi-Fi deployments in Nigeria and Kenya in partnership with the country’s operators, including Etisalat and Surf.

Mobile World Live reports that in a bid to maintain its ambitions and keep up its user growth, Facebook in recent months also announced plans to build 770km of fibre in Uganda in partnership with India-headquartered Bharti Airtel.

Everson said there was “no magic bullet to provide internet to the people on the continent”, and the company was doing “everything available to us” to make it happen.

Africa is Facebook’s least developed market, Bloomberg noted, accounting for less than 10 per cent of the company’s 1.86 billion global users. As such, the continent presents a huge opportunity for the social media giant to tap into increasing connectivity and higher smartphone penetration.

Everson added Facebook was looking to partner with telecoms companies in Africa to bring down the cost of deploying infrastructure, and in turn, making data cheaper.

“People are sensitive to data prices on the continent,” she added. She also revealed Facebook’s instant messaging platform WhatsApp was more popular in Africa than Facebook Messenger.

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