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Facebook opens South African office, targets Kenya

01 July 2015, 18:07

Johannesburg - Facebook has opened its first office in Africa in a move aimed at cementing its business in the fast-growing region.

The world's largest social network will use its office in South Africa's largest city Johannesburg as a base from which to grow the roughly 120 million users it already has in Africa, 80 percent of whom access the site via mobile devices.

Facebook hopes new users also leads to new advertisers — 52 percent of the company's advertising revenue is already earned outside of the U.S. and Canada, according to a statement from the social network.

"Mobile is not a trend; it's the fastest development in communications we've ever seen," said Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's vice president for regions outside North America. "This couldn't be more true in Africa, where so many people are mobile-only," she said, adding that the continent is key to its expansion and investment.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the world's second-fastest growing telecommunications market after Asia, underlining its importance to Facebook and rival networks, says South African digital strategist Toby Shapshak.

Facebook already has offices in south and east Asia, centered in Hyderabad in India and Tokyo, according to its website.

South Africa vies for leadership in Africa's mobile market with Kenya, which has long been the epicenter of mobile innovation on the continent. Nairobi is often called the "silicon savanna," Shapshak said.

Shapshak believes Facebook chose Johannesburg as its base because of South Africa's well-established advertising industry and its links abroad. Facebook has tapped Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke, a former chairwoman of global media company Ogilvy & Mather's South Africa branch, to head its new office.

Expanding Facebook won't just be about adding African languages, but ensuring the social network is relevant to individual users and big advertisers, Shapshak said.

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- AP


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