Global Digital Capitalism: Mark Zuckerberg in Lagos and the Political Economy of Facebook in Africa
In 2016, Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg traveled to Lagos, Nigeria—the first stop on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa. The trip was a commercial endeavor, a digital capitalist exploration of the potential of Africa’s largest nation. Zuckerberg’s visit provides a critical lens for examining the colonizing tendencies of global media corporations and the context of Africa in the circuit of digital capitalism. Africa is emerging as a market for digital tools, with increasing penetration of mobile telecommunications services, including mobile Internet. However, it is estimated that about 60% of the continent’s population will still be unconnected in 2020. This low penetration provides an opportunity for digital enterprises such as Facebook to explore the African market. Through benevolent capitalism, Facebook is attempting to capture a huge market in Africa. The lack of investment in an Internet infrastructure in Africa provides both challenges and opportunities for digital capitalists who, in their benevolent pursuit of digital capital, aim for global domination.