What Facebook did for Africa in 2019

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Nunu Ntshingila, regional director of Facebook Africa
Nunu Ntshingila, regional director of Facebook Africa

Although it has had its fair share of controversies this year, social media giant Facebook is celebrating major milestones that it accomplished in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This morning the company released its “2019 Year in Review” infographic, showcasing some of its investments across Sub-Saharan Africa in 2019.

This after earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised stronger controls on the social network following the scandal-ridden 2018.

Scandals that hit Facebook recently include data privacy issues, election interference, as well as the spreading of fake news.

In July US regulator the Federal Trade Commission slapped Facebook with a record $5 billion fine over privacy breaches.

The $5 billion penalty against Facebook was the largest imposed to date on any company for violating consumers’ privacy and is almost 20 times greater than the largest privacy or data security penalty imposed to date worldwide. It is one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the US government for any violation.

This week, the company also came under the spotlight over disappearing political ads in the UK elections taking place today, according to a CNN report.

Power to the people

Nonetheless, the world’s biggest social media company says in Sub-Saharan Africa, it committed to giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

Throughout the year, this translated into significant support and investments into growing the ecosystem of developers, entrepreneurs, creatives, and many other communities, it says.

Nunu Ntshingila, regional director of Facebook Africa, comments: “Africa is important to Facebook, and we’re committed to investing in its youth, entrepreneurs, the creative industries, tech ecosystem as well as its many other communities.

“Our 2019 Year in Review highlights just some of these investments, and the impact we’ve been able to have here in the region. I’m excited about the future of Facebook and our family of apps here in Africa, as well as the potential of this young, mobile and dynamic continent, and look forward to creating partnerships in 2020 and beyond.”

Among its successes, Facebook says it launched an eight-week incubation programme at NG_Hub in partnership with satellite hubs across Nigeria, focusing on mentorship and practical training for would-be entrepreneurs.

The company also undertook a civic engagement roadshow ahead of Senegal’s presidential elections, and unveiled its election integrity exhibition in Lagos, ahead of the Nigerian elections.

“We opened our new Content Review Centre in Nairobi in partnership with Samasource, employing up to 100 local language content reviewers and partnered with over 20 African NGOs across 16 countries to raise awareness of Safer Internet Day 2019.

Facebook also announced support for elections across Africa in 2019, focusing on reducing the spread of misinformation, protecting election integrity and supporting civic engagement, the company says.

In April this year, ahead of general elections in SA, Emilar Gandhi, Facebook public policy lead for the SADC region, told ITWeb that the platform was working to ensure the integrity of South African elections.

“In Nigeria, we unveiled Dubawa as our third partner in our third-party fact-checking programme,” it notes.

It also partnered with MainOne in Nigeria to build and operate more than 750km terrestrial fibre infrastructure to provide metro fibre connectivity to more than one million people in Edo and Ogun States.

The MainOne Cable is a submarine communications cable stretching from Portugal to South Africa with landings along the route in various West African countries.

Vital digital skills

The company also says it launched year two of #SheMeansBusiness in Nigeria in partnership with She Leads Africa, which is aimed at training female entrepreneurs and students in vital digital skills.

It also partnered with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and AfricaTeenGeeks in Nigeria to launch Hackathon4Justice, a two-day event for young people aimed at sparking creativity through coding.

Facebook also hosted a Civic Engagement Lab in South Africa – bringing together civil society and technology experts to explore ways to reduce misinformation and protect election integrity.

Together with Cell C, it opened the first public access WiFi hotspots at the University of the Western Cape.

“We also undertook a university tour in South Africa, aimed at boosting recruitment from across the region and partnered with the Dream Factory Foundation and Facebook Community Leadership Programme Youth Fellow, Nadine Maselle, to open a computer lab at Salt River High School in Cape Town.

“We expanded our third-party fact-checking work across 10 African countries – Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry and Ghana.”

Facebook’s 2019 Year in Review infographic.

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