Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is in Nigeria on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa, using his time in the country to visit the Yaba technology hub in Lagos, meet with developers and partners and explore Nollywood.
Zuckerberg says he will also listen, learn and take ideas back to California on how Facebook can better support tech development and entrepreneurship across Africa.
One of his first stops on the trip was to visit a ‘Summer of Code Camp’ at the Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) in Yaba, known as the Silicon Valley of Nigeria.
At CcHub Zuckerberg met with developers like Temi Giwa, who runs a platform called Life Bank that makes blood available when and where it is needed in Nigeria. Life Bank saves lives by mobilising blood donations, taking inventory of all blood available in Nigeria, and delivering blood in the right condition to where it is needed.
After visiting CcHub, Mark Zuckerberg said: “This is my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa. I’ll be meeting with developers and entrepreneurs, and learning about the start-up ecosystem in Nigeria. The energy here is amazing and I’m excited to learn as much as I can.
“The first place I got to visit was the Co-creation Hub Nigeria (CcHUB) in Yaba. I got to talk to kids at a summer coding camp and entrepreneurs who come to CcHub to build and launch their apps. I’m looking forward to meeting more people in Nigeria”.
Meeting Developers At Andela
Mark then went to Andela, an engineering organisation that is building the next generation of technical leaders in Africa.
Andela is a business that recruits the most talented technologists in Africa and shapes them into world-class developers through a four-year technical leadership program.
In the two years since it was founded, Andela has accepted just over 200 engineers from a pool of more than 40,000 applicants.
Andela developers spend six months mastering a technical stack and contributing to open source projects before being placed with global technology companies as full-time, distributed teammates, working out of Andela headquarters in Lagos and Nairobi.
Earlier this year, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invested in Andela after being impressed by the company’s innovative model of learning and its drive to connect the global technology ecosystem with the most talented developers in Africa.
The Director of Andela Lagos, Seni Sulyman, said: “We are excited and honoured to welcome Mark Zuckerberg to Lagos. His visit reinforces not only his support of Andela’s mission, but his belief that indeed the next generation of great technology leaders will come out of Lagos, Nigeria and cities across Africa.
“Andela has created a platform for passionate, driven software developers and engineers to break into the global tech ecosystem, but the barriers to entry are still very high. Mark’s visit demonstrates to all Nigerian developers and entrepreneurs that they’ve caught the attention of the tech world, and they are capable of succeeding on a truly global level”.
At the end of the day Zuckerberg stopped by an Express WiFi stand in Lagos owned by Rosemary Njoku. Facebook’s Express WiFi lets entrepreneurs like Rosemary set up a hot spot to help their community access apps and services built by local developers.
On plans to expound Express WiFi he said: “This week, we’re launching a satellite into space to enable more entrepreneurs across Africa to sell Express Wi-Fi and more people to access reliable internet. That means more connectivity and more opportunity for entrepreneurs like Rosemary everywhere”.
Zuckerberg’s presence has become the talk of the day in Nigeria’s commercial city, with lots of ‘welcome to Nigeria’ messages on his Facebook page.
In response to some of the messages, an excited Mark said: “Thanks for such a warm welcome”!
Research In Motion (RIM), makers of BlackBerry, has commenced a series of training for Nigerian app developers with the aim of helping them build capacity for BlackBerry’s new platforms.
The BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam developer forum will commence today (Tuesday) at the Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) facility in Lagos. The week-long programme will also feature sessions on BlackBerry developer training.
Announcing the training in a statement on Monday, RIM noted that the BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam would provide Nigerian developers, the opportunity to learn more about the unique capabilities of BlackBerry 10.
RIM’s Regional Director for East, West and Central Africa, Mr. Waldi Wepener, stated that the full-day schedule would provide insight into the BlackBerry 10 experience, architecture and tools that could help Nigerian developers to be among the first from around the world with capacity to create apps for the new platform.
Wepener said, “the BlackBerry platform provides significant opportunities for the developer community in Nigeria. There is high demand among developers to learn more about the tools for creating local services and apps on the BlackBerry platform, as well as a strong desire to reach the millions of BlackBerry customers around the world.”
He said the programme would be held at the CcHub lab as part of an agreement with RIM to support the BlackBerry developer community in the country.
“By partnering locally with the CcHub, we aim to share resources and knowledge to create even more opportunity for Nigerian developers and to help create more jobs.”
CcHub is Nigeria’s first IT think-tank lab and it provides a place for technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, technology companies, investors, developers and enthusiasts in and around Lagos to create new solutions that can help enhance the everyday life and work in Nigeria.
The statement further reveals that beyond the BlackBerry 10 Mini Jam, RIM and CcHub will also host a series of BlackBerry Developer Days throughout 2012.
BlackBerry Developer Days will provide information about developing for the BlackBerry Java platform, as well as BlackBerry 10.