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4 Reasons to Celebrate Facebook Zero in Africa

By Wayan Vota on May 24, 2010


Facebook has finally launched Facebook Zero in 10 African countries (and 45 countries globally), and I say this is reason to celebrate!

While Kevin Donovan worries about the impact of Facebook’s lack of privacy concerns on unsophisticated users and Erik Hersman bemoans Facebook Zero’s impact on local software innovation, I’m with Steve Song – Facebook Zero is sexy.

Facebook Zero will drive ICT usage

Like I said back in February, Facebook Zero is web chang’aa for Africa, and like chang’aa, jobs will be lost, marriages will break up, and all manner of parents and elders will claim its a blight on the land as Facebook addiction spreads from urban elite out to every corner of Africa.

Facebooking will drive e-everything

Unlike actual chang’aa, Facebook Zero will also have a positive effect – its gonna increase demand for full Internet services for every category of content and hardware platform. All those new Facebook users will also become new news, ecommerce, employment, and education content consumers.

Facebook will get Africa online

Right now, many ICT companies in Africa don’t even have websites. Why? Because their clients aren’t online, so there is no need for them to be. Facebook Zero will change all that – anyone doing business will need to be on Facebook, just to prove existence to an inquisitive client. Now extrapolate that out to everyday life – Facebook will be the catalyst that gets African online when everything else to date has not.

We all will benefit from Facebook Zero

While I do worry about local software development (more than online privacy), I am not worried that Facebook Zero will stifle innovation. In fact, I think it will be a great boon to ICT innovation. Why? Because it will vastly increase the base on which innovation can occur. Instead of catering to a rounding error of a country’s population, web developers will have the whole country to sell to.

Even hardware vendors will be inundated with Facebookers. Yes, mobile phones will lead in usage by far. But make no mistake. Those that get addicted to Facebook on mobiles will want the full screen upgrade – for Facebook and all the other Internet destinations.

And yes, even privacy will get a boost. Just wait till the first national scandal that breaks from a Facebook privacy setting change.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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One Comment to “4 Reasons to Celebrate Facebook Zero in Africa”

  1. andris says:

    There’s certainly no shortage of custom apps designed with Facebook users here in the US in mind. I’m curious to see what kinds of apps for facebook start popping up once African developers make Facebook a part of their daily routine.