10 Things Facebook Claims To Have Done In 2019 In Support Of Africans

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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Social media giant Facebook claims to have done a lot in support of entrepreneurs and developers across Africa during 2019. Facebook hosts its first ‘Facebook iD8 Nairobi’ conference, in Nov. 2019, aimed at celebrating and growing the tech ecosystem across Africa. Image: Facebook

Social media giant Facebook‘s activities in Africa during 2019 have included training entrepreneurs, supporting developers and expanding its efforts to control fake news.

Facebook has 139 million active users a month in Africa, 98 percent of whom connect to the social media site via mobile.

As 2019 moved towards its final few days, Facebook published an infographic to toot its own horn, claiming to have achieved a lot throughout the year in Africa.

“Africa is important to Facebook, and we’re committed to investing in its youth, entrepreneurs, the creative industries, tech ecosystem as well as its many other communities,” said Nunu Ntshingila, regional director for Facebook Africa.

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Here are 10 things Facebook claims to have done in the last year in support of Africans.

Connecting Africans to the internet

In March, Facebook partnered with mobile operator Cell C to launch public access Wi-Fi hotspots at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. Students and visitors to the campus can now connect to the internet for free using the Wi-Fi. In September, Facebook partnered with West African submarine communications cable system MainOne in Nigeria to build and operate more than 750km of terrestrial fiber infrastructure to provide fiber connectivity to more than one million people in Edo and Ogun States.

Training women entrepreneurs

As part of Facebook’s efforts to support entrepreneurship in Africa, the social media company claims to have trained over 7,000 women-owned businesses in digital skills across sub-Saharan Africa throughout 2019. In August, Facebook launched its #SheMeansBusiness initiative in South Africa while it celebrated its second year in Nigeria. The initiative is designed to train women in critical digital skills, according to Htxt.

Support for elections across Africa

In 2019, Facebook announced support for elections across Africa, focusing on reducing the spread of misinformation, protecting election integrity and supporting civic engagement. In January, Facebook organized a civic engagement roadshow ahead of Senegal’s presidential elections and unveiled its election integrity exhibition in Lagos, ahead of the Nigerian elections. A few months later in March, Facebook held a civic engagement lab in South Africa, bringing together civil society and technology experts to explore ways to reduce misinformation and protect election integrity.

Growing the Facebook circle communities

Facebook continued to grow its circle communities throughout Africa in 2019. The social media company celebrated 79 Community Leadership Circle meetups with over 2,650 people attending. It also reached its 45th Developer Circle, with circles now active in 17 African countries and representing more than 70,000 members, according to Weetracker.

https://twitter.com/Techfugees/status/1106259921069322240

Hosted first-ever developer and startup conference

In 2019, Facebook hosted the first-ever iD8 Nairobi Conference with more than 400 African developers and startups in attendance. Aimed at growing the African tech ecosystem, the conference’s goal was to create a space for developers and startups to network while showcasing and celebrating talent from across Africa, according to Medium.

https://twitter.com/Sewagodimo_M/status/1198195400441810944

Added more African languages to third-party fact-checking efforts

In 2018, Facebook partnered with Africa Check, the first independent fact-checking organization on the continent, to expand its local language coverage. In August 2019, Facebook added 10 African languages to its third-party fact-checking program, according to a statement from the company. The new languages include Yoruba and Igbo in Nigeria, Swahili in Kenya, Wolof in Senegal, and Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele in South Africa. Hausa was already supported in Nigeria.

Expanded third-party fact-checking in Africa

In October, Facebook expanded its third-party fact-checking services to 15 African countries in an effort to fight fake news, according to ITNewsAfrica. After initially reviewing content in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Cameroon in 2018, the social media site added Ethiopia, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Ghana to its review policy. Facebook says that local posts and articles in those countries are fact-checked and photos and videos verified.

Created detailed population density maps of Africa

In April, Facebook announced that it had created the world’s most detailed population density map showing nearly all of Africa. This means that the map would essentially show exactly where the continent’s 1.3 billion people live, down to the meter, which could help everyone from local governments to relief agencies and aid organizations. The map was created by running satellite imagery through a machine learning model, according to Techcrunch.

Partnership with Andela to train developers

In July, Africa-focused coding recruiter Andela partnered with Facebook to train 2,500 software engineers across Nigeria and Kenya in web development technologies during a three-month program. In November the companies celebrated the conclusion of the initial training program involving the chosen engineers from within Facebook’s developer circles, according to Andela.

A campaign against Ebola Misinformation in DR Congo

Misinformation about the Ebola virus has been a major challenge for those treating the deadly epidemic across Africa. In November, Facebook rolled out a campaign against Ebola misinformation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Facebook.