After a two-day surprise visit to Nigeria that saw him walk the streets of Yaba and personally lecture developers in Victoria Island, Mark Zuckerberg has popped into Kenya. Howbeit unannounced, I strongly suspect the Kenyans would have had an inkling that would be his next stop. With an Andela in Kenya, it only made sense that he would pop in there.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets iHub and BRCK co-founder Erik Hersman in Nairobi.
Mark Zuckerberg at iHub, his first port of call. The unofficial “Kenyan tech headquarters” which is an innovation hub, pre-incubators and coworking space. It was designed to build an ecosystem around the tech entrepreneur.
He visited startups in Nairobi and interacted with them on a personal basis, laughed and admired the Strauss energy Roof tile; a building materials technology that captures the sun’s rays and converts them to solar energy.
But in all these activities, what caught my attention were a plate of Ugali and fried tilapia that Mark Zuckerberg was eating with a group of Kenyan men.
This is not interesting in the “Mark-must-sample-jollof-rice” kinda way, but the thing that piqued my interest is the fact that the man sitting directly across from Mark is Joseph Muncheru; the (young) Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Information and Communications.
The fact that the Nigerian government was not even officially aware of Mark Zuckerberg’s presence (I know this because of the absence of uppity motorcade and hundreds of security details) and he immediately went to dine with the Kenyan government upon arrival in Kenya is really worrisome.
Even though Joseph Muncheru was an ex-Googler and had even launched a startup in the not too distant past, these excuses do not cover the disparity in relations.
But again, on the other hand, I do not blame Mark in anyway. If the Nigerian government would have been made aware of his presence and somehow gotten involved in the proceedings, maybe Mark would never have gotten anywhere near the startups he got to in Yaba. All these selfies and pictures of Mark chilling everywhere with entrepreneurs would not have come to fruition.
Apparently, there is prospect in the Nigerian entrepreneurial tech ecosystem, the world superpowers are aware of it, but maybe do not feel like the government has created conducive environments enough for these small businesses and startups to thrive. At least that is the statement that this singular act has made.