Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday praised Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for inspiring young entrepreneurs during his surprise visit to the west African country this week, his office said.
Zuckerberg who arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and has met with young entrepreneurs at information technology and computer centres in the country’s commercial hub of Lagos and the capital Abuja.
He left briefly for Kenya on Thursday but returned to Nigeria to meet with Buhari in his office on Friday.
“I am impressed by your simplicity in sharing your knowledge and wealth with those with less income,” Buhari was quoted as telling Zuckerberg at a reception in Abuja.
He said the various meetings held by the 32-year-old Facebook chief with the youths would help Nigeria to fast-track its development.
“Nigeria has always been identified as a country with great potentials for growth, especially with our youthful population, but now we are moving beyond the potentials to reality,” he said.
Buhari said Zuckerberg’s simplicity and magnanimity had demystify the world of big business.
“In our culture, we are not used to seeing successful people appear like you. We are not used to seeing successful people jogging and sweating on the streets,” he said.
While in Lagos, the Facebook founder took some time out to jog with some youths on a bridge at the upscale Ikoyi neighbourhood, triggering huge enthusiasm on social networks throughout the country.
Zuckerberg told Buhari he was pleased he had the chance to interact with youths at an internet centre in the neighbourhood of Yaba, Lagos, where most of the Nigerian start ups are based.
“I was highly impressed by the talent of the youths in the Co-Creation Hub in Yaba. I was blown away by their talent and the level of energy that I saw,” he said.
Zuckerberg said his visit to Nigeria, his first to sub-saharan Africa, was aimed at promoting “fast and cheap” internet connectivity that would help online businesses reduce poverty in Nigeria.
Nigeria is struggling with an economy in recession after low oil prices hammered government revenues and drove inflation to 17.1 percent, the highest in over a decade.