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Sunday, 20 September 2020

Facebook To Open New Office In Lagos

Facebook To Open New Office In Lagos

Global social media and technology giant, Facebook, has announced its decision to open a Nigerian office in Lagos before the end of this year.

The announcement was made on Friday during Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s fireside chat with Facebook’s Vice President on Global Affairs and Communications, former UK Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Nick Clegg.

The chat focused on the digital economic pillar of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).

Clegg and other Facebook officials, including Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, Africa, used the opportunity to inform the Vice President about the decision to open its second African office in Lagos possibly by the end of this year or next year.

According to Facebook officials, the office which is aimed at supporting the entire Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to become fully operational in 2021.

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The Facebook Nigeria office will be the first on the continent to house a team of expert engineers building for the future of Africa and beyond.

According to Facebook, the “office will be home to various teams servicing the continent from across the business, including Sales, Partnerships, Policy, Communications as well as Engineers.”

Osinbajo, while speaking during the chat, renewed the determination of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to keep boosting the nation’s technology sector and digital economy.

According to the Vice President during the fireside chat, the focus of the Nigerian government on the digital sector is crucial in various socio-economic aspect of national life, from education, e-commerce, social investments programmes to the activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

He said: “The NESP is our response to the economic crisis caused by the (COVID-19) pandemic. Our focus on the digital sector is really because practically everything we are doing centres around expanding our reach in the digital sector.

“For example, financial inclusion is critical for us because we are spreading and extending our social services, payment of cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable and other manners of such payment; and sometimes to the farthest flung places in Nigeria. So, we certainly need to expand our reach in order to do so. Of course, technology is critical to that.”

Osinbajo also noted that the Federal Government is collaborating with the private sector to fund, establish and expand e-learning and education platforms, and other areas of digital technology growth.

It would be recalled that a delegation of the Federal Government led by the VP and including the Communications & Digital Economy Minister, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, had visited Silicon Valley in 2018 and one of the issues on the table then was how such global tech giants like Facebook could have full representation in the country, including a Nigerian office.

Recalling the trip to Silicon Valley and Facebook campus in the US in 2018, the VP stated that the tours helped to boost government’s digital drive, while leading to significant improvement in the country’s digital sector.

“The tours were extremely successful. In Silicon Valley, Nigerian start-ups got a chance to pitch their products to tech sector investors, that was very good. In fact, before we left Silicon Valley, one of our venture platforms was able to sign a deal worth about $10m with the Nigeria-US Council. Since then, we’ve seen tremendous activity post-trip. The visit helped in showing our seriousness about the technology sector, and also the entertainment industry. We held a few meetings also with the entertainment industry.

“As of 2018/19, we’ve gotten about $377m in investments in the tech sector. Although, it still scratches the surface if one considers the size of our economy and country. But there were very significant gains, and I’m very happy to do that. I think we’ve started off a series of interactions that have been very useful and we will continue to engage.”

On the issue of regulations to ensure smooth collaboration between government and the private sector, the Vice President stated that the Federal Government will continue to engage with the private sector to boost development of the tech and creative sector.

On his part, Sir Clegg noted that he was impressed with Nigeria’s broadband goals and what Government is doing to improve the digital sector.

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