Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg  in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILEFacebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE
By MUTHOKI MUMO, [email protected]

Facebook is set to host in Nairobi a competition for 15 African start-ups that will culminate in the winner getting a Sh2.6 million ($25,000) award and a visit to San Francisco, the headquarters of the social media website.

The competition has been organised in partnership with the American news site TechCrunch.

It is the culmination of a months-long search for the most promising start-ups on the continent.  Over 1,000 companies submitted applications to participate in the competition.

Facebook says the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield is part of broader efforts to localise its Africa strategy. It follows the visit by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to Africa last year.

“The whole aim is to continue the narrative, to bring the eyes of the world to see what is happening in the region,” said Chukwuemeka Afigbo, Facebook’s head for products partnerships.

GLOBAL PEERS

The winning company will also get an opportunity to participate in Disrupt San Francisco 2018, an event where start-ups will exhibit their products and go up against their global peers.

TechCrunch has been running similar competitions across the world since 2007. The news firm says that contestants at these competitions have gone on to raise over Sh722.8 billion ($7 billion) in funding.

In addition to the TechCrunch competition, Facebook’s Africa team is also hosting a training workshop for developers and a conference for women in the technology sector.

Facebook established its physical presence in Africa in 2014. Recently, the company has become especially active as it aims to get more people connected to the web and therefore use its products.

Most recently, the company partnered with Surf Kenya to provide cheap WiFi connectivity.

Facebooks says that there are now more than 600 Surf Kenya WiFi hotspots in Nairobi and its environs.