At a recent tech event in Ghana in June, an attendee asked a question that seemed to be out of place. At least that is what I thought until I thought about the question over and over again. He asked ”would Facebook have been where it is now if it had been built by an African?”
Of course not, if Facebook were developed by an African, it would have been better or worse that the 500-million-user website we have right now. For the past couple of days I have looked into the history and genesis of the service we now call Facebook. And I have analysed the environment it was grown in. I doubt anyone can tell with utmost surety whether or not Facebook.com would have done better under an African manager. I would however go ahead to list some of the conditions under which Mark Zuckerberg built his social network in. The question we would have to ask ourselves is whether or not such resources exist in Africa.
The aiding factors
Mark got into Harvard with a fair understanding of how computers worked and how to write computer applications faster than the average High School kid. It didn’t take him long to earn a reputation as a computer whizz. And these are skills he had gathered even before his entrance into the university. There obviously are different versions of the origin of the Facebook idea. No matter how you look at it though, one thing remains clear; Mark built the first application that is today Facebook.com from his dorm. Which means he obviously must have had Internet and the tools necessary to achieve such a feat. After a successful launch on Harvard campus, Mark leveraged the influence of his contacts to introduce the social network in other universities in the US. These are but a few of the factors that saw the popularity of Facebook.com soaring by the day.
I can’t speak for all African nations, and that is why I would want you to ask yourself these questions in your quest to answer the question ”Would Facebook have been where it is now if it had been built by an African?”. Do we have academic curricular that ensures High school kids graduate with enough skills to build simple web/mobile application? Do we have Universities with an infrastructure that can support development of tech idea in our halls or dormitories? And finally if our own are hardworking enough to come up with a technologies as valuable as Facebook, can we help it go beyond our own borders so that half a billion people would want to sign up?
- Facebook’s explosive growth in Africa (thenextweb.com)
- Finally! the Truth About Mark Zuckerberg – From “Dick”apedia… (bonjupatten.wordpress.com)
- 3 tech events in Ghana you shouldn’t miss (africaontheblog.com)