Mark Zuckerberg may have finally ended Nigeria Vs Ghana Jollof wars with his unplanned visit to Lagos this week, which confirmed sources are saying was to first validate Naija Jollof after which he would visit Nigerian developers and Entrepreneurs. This sources say he was so thrilled with the quality of the Jollof that Facebook will be getting a Naija Jollof emoji in the near future.
Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg made an unexpected visit to Lagos, Nigeria this week. Unexpected for most of the developers and entrepreneurs that had registered for the Facebook developers town hall he eventually chaired, but probably expected by the inner cycle of brilliant Nigerians that work with him at Facebook as profiled in this list courtesy of techpoint.ng.
The visit comes at a very significant time in Nigeria which Mark Zuckerberg in his response to a question at the townhall meeting summarized as “The economy is shifting from a resource based economy to an entrepreneurial and knowledge based economy and Nigerians are the ones leading that change, not only in remaking Lagos, Nigeria, but shaping the whole continent and influencing how things are going to work around the world for the next generation”.
Nigerian governments in the past relied on the security of oil revenue, but with a fall in global oil prices, increase in supply in global markets and increased militancy in the oil rich states of Nigeria, the President Buhari led government is forcefully looking away from oil to taxation, external borrowing and other things it understands.
Why not technology, startups and entrepreneurship you may be quick to ask? The easy answer is learning curve, and changing stripes which makes the significance of Mark Zuckerberg’s investment in Andela, a developer incubator and supplier to the global market all the more important.
Mark Zuckerberg through the Chan Zuckerberg foundation invested $24 million in Andela a company which even though is registered in the USA is heavily focused on training world class software development talent in Africa with key operations already in Nigeria and Kenya. That investment which indirectly serves as foreign direct investment came at a time when heavy regulatory involvement has greatly discouraged new and repeat investors in Nigeria. Zuckerberg’s visit to Andela as part of his trip to Lagos shines further light on Andela and the story as a ray of hope in a week where released economic stats point to a deeper recession in Nigeria.
The one thing Zuckerberg’s visit tells us and which he confirms in answering a question about his first impressions vs what he had heard is the doggedness and entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians. Zuckerberg calls it “Entrepreneurial energy”-
‘The thing that is striking for me is the entrepreneurial energy. When you are trying to build something what matters the most is just who wants it the most. You feel that here in Nigeria, as soon as you get off the plane and start talking to people, you feel that passion and that entrepreneurial energy. I can tell you two stories just from last night when I talked to probably no more than 100 people and I was really blown away”.
Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony will be the key that opens the door for foreign direct investment into the technology scene in Nigeria. As an entrepreneur, this is the time to be ready to ride the wave that is coming. Those brilliant products that you have built that you shelved because of funding can be brought out now. The wave is coming and you need to be positioned for it.