Mark Zuckerberg Goes On A Charm Offensive In Nigeria And Kenya

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Mark Zuckerberg’s much-publicised trip to the continent spawned dozens of think-pieces in the blogosphere this past week.

Many pundits clearly view Mark’s 'surprise' visit to Nigeria and Kenya as an affirmation of the continent’s importance as a valuable source of under-utilised tech talent, and as a hot-bed of home-grown innovation. Others read it as a pre-cursor to a massive wave of foreign investment that's expected to wash over the continent’s technology industry. We, on the other hand, can’t help sensing the calculated profit motive wrapped up in Mark’s impeccably orchestrated African safari.

'Connecting Africa’ is no doubt a huge priority for Facebook, given the growth of the continent’s increasingly affluent middle class, the availability of relatively cheap labour, and the hundreds of millions of impoverished Africans who are prime for education— read monetisation. Now, on some level Mark Zuckerberg must care about humanity and all, but it is curious how readily many of us have fallen for the man's trademark charm and humility without questioning his obvious self-interest.

In this week’s African Tech Round-up episode, Andile Masuku shares more insights gleaned from DEMO Africa 2016. Look out for snippets of conversations he had with the Publisher of CIO East Africa magazine and CEO of DEMO Africa, Harry Hare, the Principal Investment Officer for Africa at Singularity Investments, Lexi Novistke, as well as two promising startup founders who made it to the final pitching phase of this year’s competition (but didn’t win a spot in the top five), Ismael Rachdaoui of nextwi (Morocco), and Brian Ondari of AirKlip (Kenya).