Africans’ entrepreneurial spirit, energy, and will to succeed are “underappreciated” across the world, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday on a visit to Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos.
“The thing that is striking [about Lagos and across Africa] is the entrepreneurial energy and the will to succeed,” Zuckerberg told a town hall in Lagos with a select group of entrepreneurs and young engineers.
“Here in Lagos and across the continent, things are changing quickly; the economy is shifting from a resources-based economy to an entrepreneur- and knowledge-based economy. This is shaping the future across the continent and around the world for the next generation,” he added.
Zuckerberg cited examples of a young Nigerian female engineer who through persistence and dedication got hired by Facebook after she passed various tests.
“I think that is a story that is underappreciated across the world … That is the spirit I felt once I touched down in Lagos, and I’m blown away by such energy in people,” he added.
Zuckerberg is in Nigeria, his first visit to Africa, to listen and learn and take ideas back to California on how Facebook can better support tech development and entrepreneurship across Africa, he told his audience, most of them engineers and entrepreneurs.
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.
Zuckerberg then went to Andela, an engineering organization that is building the next generation of technical leaders in Africa.
Andela, according to a Facebook statement, is a business that recruits the most talented technologists in Africa and shapes them into world-class developers through a four-year 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.