Facebook has increased its number of African users to 170 million and plans to expand further by adding wifi hotspots and fiber optic cables.
The figure is 42 percent higher than when the U.S. social network first opened an Africa office in 2015, Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing, said in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday. The rollout of wifi in Nigeria and Kenya will be done via partnerships with international wireless carriers such as Emirates Telecommunications Group Co. and closely held Surf respectively, she said.
Facebook also announced the construction of 770 kilometersof fiber in Uganda alongside Bharti Airtel Ltd. of India earlier this year.
The plans are part of a long-term investment push by Facebook in Africa, the social network's least developed market with less than 10 percent of its 1.86 billion users worldwide. Other companies targeting African growth include Google, which said last month it's laying fiber optic cable and easing access to cheaper Android phones.
Facebook will also re-visit its plan to use a satellite to connect rural Africa after the company's first attempt was scuppered last year by an exploding SpaceX rocket, the executive said.