Facebook targets a billion subscribers in Africa

In October 2012, Facebook passed the ‘one billion users a month’ mark. While that is a phenomenal number, Facebook is also a listed company with shares trading on the stock exchange. As such, it has a duty to its shareholders to do its best, expand its business and increase revenues. With the number of users in developed nations reaching saturation, it’s time to target a different market.

In the UK, where fast mobile internet is the norm, over 30 million Facebook subscribers will access the site with a mobile device at some point in the month. It’s worth noting that the UK is targeted to have 98% 4G coverage by the end of 2015.

To recruit another billion users, Facebook will need to focus on Africa and, as the VP for EMEA (Europe, Midle East and Africa) Nicola Mendelsohn said recently, “There’s no point in sending a video stream to someone with a 2G connection”.


As a result, Facebook is trying a multi-pronged attack, starting with recruitment and moving through to technology and alternative payment strategies:-

  • Local Sales
    Facebook has appointed global agency Ogilvy to the task of bringing social media to Africa through social media – and Ogilvy has chosen Nunu Ntshingila (pictured above) to oversee the business from her office in South Africa
  • Free Airtime
    Making it free to access sites like Facebook, through corporate sponsorship/advertising
  • Facebook Lite
    Making the site itself very friendly to visitors with lower bandwidth and non-smartphones
  • ‘We Will Call You’ Advertising
    When an African wants to respond to an advert, they will be able to click on it – and the advertiser will call them back with details

Africa Fashion is dedicated to showcasing African talent – and to helping promote the idea of buying fashion online across the continent.

As such, we believe that Facebook’s move is intelligent, well timed and likely to help achieve the long term goal of improving people’s situations through commerce more than charity.

Right now, Facebook has just over 120 million users. It wants to see just how far that number can be expanded.

We applaud Facebook for this move and everyone at African Fashion wishes Nunu success in her new role.

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