During a recent training of ICT professionals, I was amazed to hear that most everyone had a Facebook account. Not only that, the computer technicians were seeing a spike in bandwidth usage directly tied to Facebook. And absolutely everyone felt that too much work-time was spent updating Facebooks accounts.
Now you could see that as a negative – the countless lost man hours of work time spent socializing instead of producing goods and services for Africa’s millions. Or you could look at it another way:
Facebook is driving ICT adoption in Africa
The consensus of group, marketing and technical experts at African ICT companies, was that Facebook was creating demand for their services. Current clients wanted faster Internet connectivity to download all the images and video sent their way via Facebook, and more technology (cameras, video & image editing software) to create content for their Facebook pages.
All the chatter about Facebook accounts was also driving new customers to buy computers and invest in Internet connectivity. “I need to get Facebook,” is becoming a common refrain at retail computer stores. This should not come as a surprise.
Facebook in Africa
Facebook has over 400,00 users in kenya is the most popular site in south africa and is growing by 20,000 new users per month in Nigeria and Ghana – 3x the US growth rate.
Facebook is encoraging this rapid growth with interfaces in swahili and Afrikanns, with Zulu and Hausa on the way. Yes, even ICT works is on facebook.
Benefits Beyond Facebook
Now Facebook is not a personal favorite, but I am glad something is driving ICT adoption, and through that, an overall comfort with online activity. I expect that from Facebook usage will spring forth usage of other web services, like Twitter and blogging, and hopefully a blossoming of local African content that will make conferences like this one, seem quaint.