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Facebook’s influential Nigerian ‘brain trust’ is the reason Zuckerberg came to Lagos first

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Back in May, Archibong and Afigbo led a Facebook delegation to launch the company’s Free Basics—a service that aims to help more people access the internet at no cost—in Nigeria. Afigbo, in particular, is said to be one of Zuckerberg’s trusted advisers on growing the company in Africa. He’s believed to have influenced Zuckerberg’s decision to back Lagos-based coder training center Andela. Before Facebook, Afigbo and Archibong worked at Google and IBM respectively. Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s head of public policy for Africa, is another prominent Nigerian at the company.

She leads the company’s public policy work in sub Saharan Africa and has been involved in some of Facebook’s Nigeria-focused initiatives. Last year, she led a training initiative which saw Nigerian lawmakers schooled on how to use the social networking platform for effective engagement with their constituents. As Techpoint notes, Facebook has several other Nigerians in key leadership roles across media partnerships, products and payments. It’s worth noting an influential minority group at Facebook given Silicon Valley’s recent self-examination and handwringing over a lack of diversity in its ranks particularly among engineers and leadership roles overall.

Blacks and Hispanics comprise just 1% of engineering leadership at Twitter, 2% at Google, and 2% at Facebook. Long-term, having a crop of young executives with Nigerian backgrounds in prominent roles at one of the world’s generation-defining technology companies could hopefully support even more local growth.

– Quartz

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