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by Fredrick Ngugi, at 07:00 am, September 02, 2016, Tech & Innovation

Facebook CEO Catches Kenyans Unawares with Surprise Visit

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (l) enjoys ugali and fish in a Nairobi restaurant. kenya Today

It was a big surprise for Kenyans Thursday, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed up in Nairobi unexpectedly on what he said was a mission to meet Kenyan technology entrepreneurs and developers.

The 32-year-old Internet billionaire announced his arrival in Kenya on his Facebook page, where he said he would meet with local entrepreneurs and developers and learn about mobile money transfer, which has continued to put Kenya on the global map.

“I’m starting at a place called iHub, where entrepreneurs can build and prototype their ideas. Two of the engineers I met – Fausto and Mark – designed a system to help people use mobile payments to buy small amounts of cooking gas, which is a lot safer and better for the environment than charcoal or kerosene,” the young tech mogul wrote.

“It’s inspiring to see how engineers here are using mobile money to build businesses and help their community.”

Zuckerberg’s Choice of Restaurant

Zukerberg also met with Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information Communication and Technology Joe Mucheru who treated him to a nice meal of ugali and fish at a local eatery known as Mama Oliech Restaurant.

The restaurant, owned by the Mother of Kenyan soccer player Dennis Oliech, is a regular place for middle- and- low-income earners. It was therefore a big deal to many Kenyans for the Facebook CEO to have a meal there.

“I had lunch in Nairobi with Joseph Mucheru, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Information and Communications. We talked about Internet access and his ambitious plans for connecting everyone in Kenya,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“We ate at Mama Oliech Restaurant – a local place everyone recommended. One of my favorite parts of travelling to a new country is trying the food. I enjoyed Ugali and a whole fried tilapia for the first time and loved them both.”

On Twitter, Kenyans reacted to Zuckerberg’s visit:

 

 

Before coming to Kenya, Zuckerberg was in Nigeria, where he also met with technology entrepreneurs and developers.

Zuckerberg is set to launch a mega project in Africa called “Free Basics” that will provide free Internet access to cellphone users in remote parts of Africa.

Unfortunately, the project might be delayed further following the destruction of a satellite that Facebook intended to use to provide free connectivity to remote parts of the globe. The satellite was destroyed in a SpaceX launch failure Thursday.

However, the Facebook CEO announced that they have other technologies that will allow them to continue with the project.

“Fortunately we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

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