Being Facebook users, surely a lot of us do not even know that Facebook does not have an office here in Africa, more specifically in South Africa because if you take a closer look, more than half of the company’s ad revenue comes from outside the United States and Canada, and has for a number of years. Hey, all that is about to change.
Facebook, which has been working to build its user base in Africa through programs like Internet.org and lightweight versions of its app , is opening a new business office in Johannesburg, South Africa, the company’s first permanent office on the continent.
In recognition of the fact that in excess of 80% of African Facebook users access the social network on mobile, Facebook will initially concentrate business efforts on Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, the company said in a statement. It also provides support to Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
The office will serve as a sales hub, it will focus on sales and improving Facebook’s ability to attract local businesses to advertise on the social network, which is growing in the region. Facebook has hired Nunu Ntshingila, Chairperson of Ogilvy South Africa, to run the new office as the company’s Head of Africa, a new position.
This office will not include Internet.org employees, though, at least not right now. It plans to hire 25 employees in its South Africa office, all of them on the business and advertising side of the fence. That number will increase throughout the year.
Facebook is also hoping to learn more about what kinds of advertising actually works in Africa as a way to lure big brands like Coca-Cola and Virgin Mobile that may want to reach the site’s African user base. The company launched a Creative Accelerator program earlier this year to do just that.
It has also made significant efforts in trying to reach this group of Internet newbies. Internet.org is probably the most well-known — and most critized— example. The initiative offers a free slate of Internet services, including Facebook, to some parts of the world where Internet is not widely available. Of the 14 countries with Internet.org access, six of them are in Africa.
Facebook also launched what it called “missed call ads” in Africa and India last year. When links for an ad on Facebook are clicked, the advertiser calls the user’s phone and plays an audio ad and takes on the costs of that call. The new office will likely explore various such ways to better connect businesses to consumers. This is exciting as it also means that more jobs are going to be created, and Facebook being such an innovative company will obviously bring forth a multitude of opportunities in tech and innovation in the continent.