With more than a billion people, Africa is a land of vast, untapped business opportunities for Facebook. And to seize the immense potential that this emerging market presents, the social media giant is going all out to woo users.
In its latest move, Facebook is partnering with Eutelsat to launch a new satellite that will provide African Facebook users Internet access in some of the most remote parts of the content. As part of the company’s Internet.org initiative, the AMOS-6 satellite will be ready for launch in 2016.
In a post on Facebook outlining the plan and showing photos of the technology like the one above, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg explains:
“Over the last year, Facebook has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam internet access down into communities from the sky. To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies.”
He also added that Facebook will “work with local partners across the regions to help communities begin accessing internet services provided through satellite.”
In the past year, Facebook has undertaken some significant steps to capture the booming African market. The company recently opened its first office in Africa to boost its advertising business. It has also been investing in technology products to leverage the potential of the market.
A key reason behind Facebook’s growing interest in Africa is its rapidly increasing popularity in the region. Ever since the company hit the 100 million mark in Africa, it has been focusing on strengthening its presence further.
Opportunities for Your Business
Facebook’s focus on Africa is good news for you, too. To begin with, it gives you access to a huge market where demand — especially for digital products and services — is growing at a swift pace.
One of the most lucrative opportunities exists in digital financial services. Greta Bull, IFC program manager for the Partnership for Financial Inclusion and co-author of a study on the trends and opportunities in digital financial services in Africa says, “Digital financial services infrastructure provides ample business opportunities for African and international companies to supply services that can improve peoples’ lives.”
The study cites FinScope data to highlight innovations that are enabling further financial inclusion. For example, in Tanzania, “the rate of access to formal financial services has increased from 16.4 percent to 57.8 percent in just four years mainly because of mobile financial services.”
For small businesses offering digital services in the financial sector, opportunities are therefore aplenty.
Another opportunity lies in forming partnerships with small businesses in Africa to collaborate in online services such as virtual assistance.
Africa is steadily emerging as an attractive opportunity for small businesses — including those in the U.S. With Facebook expanding its reach in the region and faster 4G connections in Africa and India gaining momentum, it’s a market you should be keeping a close eye on.
Image: Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook