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How Google is making the Internet work for Africa

by Milicent Atieno
google for africa

Search engine giant writes in a blog post, by the 2034 (less than two decades) the largest workforce (1.1 billion) in the world will be living in Africa. However, the continent is producing only 3-4 million jobs per year. That means, left unchecked, Africa’s unemployment level will sky rocket to unprecedented levels.

Google, having made its fortune from the internet, understands there are a lot of untapped opportunities online for masses in Africa. Putting money where its mouth is, Google is on a mission to arm, especially the youths, with the digital skills they need to leverage on the fast growing digital market across the continent.

Yesterday at Google for Nigeria event held in Lagos, the company announced the progress they have made so far with their products and services to drive digital inclusion in Nigeria. The company also outlined programs and initiatives it has started to support startups across Africa.

One Million Youth Training in Digital Skills for Africa

In 2016, Google started Digital Skills for Africa training program. This initiative is aimed at bridging the digital skills gap in Africa, and the company is targeting to train at least one million youth.

Almost a year later, it is emerging Google met and surpassed their target. Through both in-person and online training, Google has taught African youths digital skills about building a web presence, how to use the Search Engine to find jobs, write a top-notch CV, and leverage on social media among other things.

Google is now expanding the program and is now targeting another 10 million people for digital skills training within the next five years. The company is also giving advanced technical skills to mobile app developers mainly in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. For mobile app developers, Google is first targeting 10,000 youths in Africa.

Launchpad Accelerator Africa

For the budding entrepreneurs with promising technology companies and products, Google is offering support for scaling their startups into big-time tech companies. Through the Launchpad Accelerator program, Google is pumping in $3 million equity-free funding into these startups, coupled with mentorship, working space, and access to a network of mentors and seasoned role models. grants

As for charity, Google has committed $20 million to be used for charitable programs across Africa over the next five years. Take, for instance, is giving away $2.5 million to non-profit arms of Gidi Mobile and Siyavula; the two startups are providing free e-learning platform for over 400,000 students from low-income backgrounds in South Africa and Nigeria.

Google is tweaking its products and services to work better in Africa

Admittedly, Africa has made remarkable strides towards getting its population access digital infrastructure like the electricity, internet, and devices. However, in most areas, those strides are a far cry from international standards.

To ensure no people are left out of the digital market, Google is making its products work better with the poorest standards of digital infrastructures available in Africa. Take, for instance, YouTube has been redesigned to YouTube Go designed to work ‘offline’ first, gives users the option to control how much data is used to stream or save a video. When a user is on a 2G network, Google has tweaked their search results pages to load faster and is now partnering with sites and content creators to make web pages load faster on slower networks like 2G networks found across many African countries.

To see the full list of products and tools Google is tweaking to make the internet more accessible across Africa and their empowerment initiative. Click here.

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