Facebook Opens Sales Office in Johannesburg

Johannesburg, South Africa, is the site of Facebook’s first sales office in Africa, which opened its doors Monday.

Johannesburg, South Africa, is the site of Facebook’s first sales office in Africa, which opened its doors Monday.

The social network said the sales team in Johannesburg will initially focus on Sub Saharan Africa: Kenya (East Africa), Nigeria (West Africa) and South Africa (Southern Africa), teaming up with governments, telecommunications operators, ad agencies and other organizations.

The regional market is an important one for Facebook, as the social network tallied some 120 million monthly active users as of the end of the first quarter of 2015, up 20 percent from September 2014, when it reached 100 million MAUs for the area. Facebook added that more than 80 percent of those MAUs access the social network via mobile devices.

In South Africa, Facebook boasts 12 million MAUs, 11 million of which do so via mobile. Adding the Middle East to Africa, the social network has more than 191 million MAUs, and more than 85 percent of those connect via mobile.

Facebook said in a release announcing the opening of the Johannesburg office that the region is home to more than 1 billion people, adding that 52 percent of the company’s total ad revenue in the first quarter of 2015 came from outside of the U.S. and Canada, and that the number of active Facebook users has grown 20 percent between September 2014 and now.

Oglivy veteran Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke will lead the new office, joining the company as head of Africa. She helped build the ad agency’s network in Sub Saharan Africa.

Facebook vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Nicola Mendelsohn said in the release:

We are inspired by the incredible ways people and businesses in Africa use Facebook to connect. This momentum in Africa comes on top of strong advertiser partnerships and excellent adoption of our products across all regions. In the first quarter of 2015, 52 percent of our total ad revenue came from outside of the U.S. and Canada. But we’re just getting started. Mobile is not a trend; it’s the fastest development in communications we’ve ever seen. This couldn’t be more true in Africa, where so many people are mobile-only.

This new office is a significant milestone for Facebook, and our teams want to partner with businesses across the continent. Africa is important to Facebook, and this office is a key part of our strategy to expand our investment and presence across EMEA. Facebook is already a central part of people’s lives in Africa, and with more than 1 billion people in Africa, we want to do more to help people and businesses connect.

Regional director for the Middle East and Africa Ari Kesisoglu added:

Our new African office will support our customers across the continent. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when it comes to building products and solutions that address diverse needs on the continent, which is why we are committed to creating solutions tailored to people, businesses and specifically for African markets.

Our priority for the next few months is to continue the work we are already doing with some clients in this region. We will work more closely with businesses and agencies to understand the challenges so that we can build solutions that help grow their business. People increasingly want to be connected to the world around them and desire information about new services and products to better their lives. At the same time, businesses need stronger, more flexible and less fragmented ways of reaching people in Sub Saharan Africa. Our mission will be to connect brands and consumers in Africa, creating value for all parties in the process.

Readers: Are you surprised that it took this long for Facebook to open a sales office in Africa?


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david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.