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Four Important Takeaways From Nigeria For Zuckerberg By Segun O'Law

September 1, 2016

"Nigerians are hard-working creators...what they have most lacked, however, is the means to take their innovative content or products to meet the eyes of their variously located potential clients."

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

Permit me to suspend the greetings. I'm sure you don't also have time for the fluffs.

You have clear missions that you're here for and are already getting down to the business. I'm very glad you're using every minute of your precious time on this tour to find and address the issues hindering millions of users from maximizing the tools you have created and also to bring on the untapped potential users due to Internet challenges. I love that you're driven by specific goals.

OK, no time for long epistles.

While you've tried and are still trying politely enough to cope with the paparazzi-loving elites and staunch professional-celebrities of Nigeria, some of them are genuinely engaging you on cogent issues and I'm sure you're filtering words you get, appropriately. I don't need to advise you extensively on this because you must be readily guided on to simply smile for their cameras while you take important points from those engaging you on critical issues.

Now, to your list of take-homes, brother Mark Facebook Zuckerberg, the following are germane points. These points will not only make your platform the greatest tool in the hands of a craving and creative generation of startups, but also make you the long awaited messiah whose historic visit made the salvaging intervention for breakthroughs against unemployment, redundancy and avoidable restiveness. Some of these suggestions you may have heard, but this piece is to support your guided consciousness about them as there may be overwhelming dramas and distractions being spontaneously created to arrest and impress you.

First, and I acknowledge that you may have recognized this by making your first stop upon touching down in Nigeria to be Sabo, Yaba in Lagos. Nigerians are hard-working creators and you've readily seen this during your visit to the Co-Creation Hub (CChub) and Andela startup firms, respectively. You saw dedicated and determined young techies and other startups creatively using foundational tools to churn valuable products that have significantly turned daily lives into ease for the human. 

What they have mostly lacked, however, is the means to take their innovative content or products to meet the eyes of their variously located potential clients. They possess a significantly "weak" currency against the standard currency unit applicable for ads space purchased on the global Facebook platform. The dollars continue to dwarf the naira available to them on the daily basis. As I write, you'd by now almost not detect the naira standing beside the dollar. Now it's official, Nigeria is in (belatedly admitted) recession. 

So, whether by making location detection tools in combination with some other user identifiers, or through some location-peculiar separators, put these Nigerian startups at some level they are able to rub shoulders with other startups where currencies are robust, so they don't get killed by the wide inverse between the naira and the dollars. 80 million users from Nigeria would not only maximize their space, but will be a higher revenue drive for the platform when more users are encouraged to push their products or contents through. More so, it will be a strategic window for conversion of many trolls to real users, limiting also the tendencies for fraud, or several debts on numerous debit cards that will not come back to pay up or run further ads. I'm sure you understand this, which is also a startup support and empowerment window, way better than very of the hyped indigenous charades by unserious government administrations in Nigeria, put together.

Secondly, and you're also addressing this by announcing the launch of a satellite in space. I'd only request that signals are made particularly stronger in specifically dry areas, including Nigeria's Northeast. I'll briefly state how this will be a great innovation and highly revolutionary. It will reduce the poverty ravaging the Northeast by giving opportunities in technology to the mendicants or "Almajiris"; improve presence of technology and hence, foster development with revelation of better sides of life to the awkwardly orientated children growing up in the dry land with a singular dream to fight vaguely existent enemies; help greatly in combating crime, exposing lodgment of terror elements and ultimately will help in quicker rescue of not only the #ChibokGirls but also other numerous but unknown abductees of the terrorists; help existing users maximize their use of the platform through creation of wider competition and ultimately lowering cost of data subscription; other advantages as offshoots of the aforementioned.

Third, and I take this importantly, allow content creators monetize their posts. Maybe, this sounds like "share your revenues" with those creating the contents, but it's the next way to go. This is the only thing Google possesses over Facebook, for now. Making two types of account; one for advertisers (Adwords) and the other for publishers (Adsense).

It's time to begin empowering users by allowing them earn from their contents. Some pages have as many as one or two million fans and gain up to equal or more number of views landing on their pages per day.

If Facebook can let pages choose whether to allow ads run on them while viewers are looking at contents and then a fraction of the ads revenue generated by Facebook through placing ads on the desktop sides or newsfeed is paid to the pages that generated them, it will inevitably become the hub of all content, including videos, which many users now prefer to view natively on the Facebook platform than going out to YouTube.

This will also reduce dependence of many users on the traditional website presence creation to focusing topic on entirely new agenda of building their communities on the social media. 

What more, it will reduce piracy and fraud. If contents are scanned and screened to be originally genuine by the page posting them before they can be monetized, it will reduce the "lifting spree" act by copyright breachers and compel users to be genuine and creatively generate innovative contents. Naturally, plagiarism and frauds will be demotivated, championed by the purity policy in Social Media content monetization process.

Lastly, Facebook must begin to hunt down fake or imitating accounts. I understand business is sweet, but it is better when dignity is trusted. Many accounts are fake and thrive on Facebook. They must be hunted down as they are capable of undermining integrity of the system.

I'd also like to add that Instagram is innovative but still isn't flexible for startups in Nigeria and Africa. The same suggestions for Facebook should be considered for Instagram.

As I write, it is with sincere heart, knowing well that if you allow these suggestions have consideration in your next plans, you'd become a savior of many youths from the yoke and shackles of unemployment in Nigeria. Take it that your short but powerful visit is more impactful than the daily but non-felt presence of government in Nigeria. SURE-P has fallen like a house of cards; other nepotistic and individualistic employment or empowerment windows by past and present administrations have only benefited those in the circle of government officials. 

So, technology is the next hope to go and many startups can't wait to fly with widened opportunities.

Accept my kind regards and enjoy the rest of your touring experience.

Segun O'Law