Here is something that might be worth noting by the submarine fiber optic cable industry.  Facebook has opened an office in Johannesburg, South Africa – its first office in the continent.

Why is this significant?  Facebook, like other major content providers, is investing in its own network capacity.  Three years ago, the company became a member of the Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) consortium, which is building a submarine cable system in Southeast Asia. 

In announcing the Johannesburg office opening, Facebook noted that its active user population in Africa has grown 20% to 120 million in June 2015 from 100 million in September 2014. More than 80% of these people access Facebook from their mobile phones.

“Africa is important to Facebook, and this office is a key part of our strategy to expand our investment and presence across EMEA. Facebook is already a central part of people’s lives in Africa, and with more than a billion people in Africa, we want to do more to help people and businesses connect,” said Nunu Ntshingila, the company's new Head of Africa.

Facebook will initially focus on growing its business in anchor countries in the major regions of Sub Saharan Africa:  Kenya (East Africa), Nigeria (West Africa), and South Africa (Southern Africa). Other supported territories include Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

While this development does not mean that Facebook will necessarily be building new submarine cables in Africa, it is worth the industry’s attention as the company may well be on its way to having a major role in Africa’s bandwidth landscape.