Facebook in Africa: 100M MAUs, and Counting

AfricaGraphic650Facebook announced that it reached the 100 million monthly-active-user mark in Africa in June, adding that more than 80 percent of those users are accessing the social network via mobile devices.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly stressed his focus on connecting the rest of the world to the Internet — particularly developing areas, such as Africa — via the Internet.org initiative he launched in August 2013, along with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung.

The social network said in a post on the Facebook for Business page:

As in all corners of the globe, people in African countries use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world and to share and express what matters to them. With the dramatic shift to mobile happening in high-growth countries, this transition means connectedness — to people, organizations, businesses (and customers) around the world.

For brands, the ability to interact with people on their terms, on mobile, translates to a new opportunity to bring value to both people and advertisers.

We know that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when it comes to building products and solutions that address diverse local needs around the world, which is why we’re committed to crafting solutions specifically for high-growth markets. From testing new ad units based on how people connect with each other to enabling advertisers to customize campaigns for people depending on their devices and connection speeds, we’re learning, testing and optimizing to provide the best experience for the next wave of people coming online.

And we know we can’t do it alone. Partners like Unilever, which have continually shown their commitment to global health and well-being, will work with us to test solutions across countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.

Zuckerberg said at an event in Mexico this past weekend, hosted by Carlos Slim, as reported by Reuters:

What we really care about is connecting everyone in the world. Even if it means that Facebook has to spend billions of dollars over the next decade making this happen, I believe that over the long term, it’s going to be a good thing for us and for the world.

I believe that … when everyone is on the Internet, all of our businesses and economies will be better.

GroupM chief digital officer of global Rob Norman said in the Facebook for Business post:

In Africa, we are seeing explosive growth and incredible momentum across the region. At the same time, when you look at the staggering cost of connectivity in many countries, mobile services need to deliver maximum utility on the biggest range of devices and consume the smallest amount of data, which is exactly what Facebook provides.

Unilever director of global media Jay Altschuler added:

At Unilever, we believe in putting people first. It’s our mission to connect our brands with the people we serve in order to help improve people’s health and well-being and enhance livelihoods. And we have found that in Africa, the best way to engage the people we serve is through mobile.

Readers: What do you think of Facebook’s progress in Africa?

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.