Facebook’s internal Research and Development (R&D) team is reportedly working on an educational mobile app called Sabee. The app seems to be targeted towards learners in Nigeria when it becomes fully functional.
The social media powerhouse first announced opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria in September last year, and Sabee could be one of the first products to emerge from this office.
With a name stemming from “sabi” – “to know” – in Nigerian Pidgin, the app aims to connect learners and educators in online communications and increase accessibility to educational opportunities.
The app was briefly shown publicly in Google’s Play Store, published by “NPE Team,” the internal R&D group at Facebook. The team has typically focused on apps for social experiences in areas like dating, music and messaging amongst others, reports TechCrunch.
The NPE team has yet to produce an app that has graduated to full Facebook product, and the team’s previous endeavours have all met sad ends, including would-be products like video app Hobbi, calling app CatchUp, friend-finder Bump, podcast community app Venue, and several others.
With Sabee, however, the team has an opportunity for a new direction that isn’t just about building another social experiment. Sabee is tied to Facebook’s larger initiative in focusing more on serving the African continent, starting in Nigeria. This initiative is a strategic move by Facebook, informed by data showing that Nigeria will become the second-most populous country in the world by 2100, behind China.
Still in Early in Testing
While Facebook told TechCrunch that Sabee is still “a small test for the time being”, the company is invested in the continued testing of the app, with Facebook Product Lead, Emeka Okafor stating “With this small, early test, we’re hoping to understand how we can help educators build communities that make education available to everyone. We look forward to learning with our early testers, and deciding what to do from there.”
Okafor says that “There are 50 million learners, but only 2 million educators in Nigeria,” and that Sabee will be a way for those educators to connect with more learners in the country if it leaves its testing phase.
This large gap between learners and educators in the most populated country in Africa also affects women and girls to a significant extent, which is another key issue that Sabee will aim to address.
Facebook is also looking to better serve groups that are often left behind by technology, so the team behind Sabee is working to create an app that works with connectivity as low as 2G, reports TechCabal.