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Kenya: Kenya, Nigeria & S. Africa: biggest winners of Google's Africa tech training

2017/09/09

Alphabet Inc’s Google aims to train 10 million people in Africa in online skills over the next five years in an effort to make them additional employable, its chief executive said on Thursday.

The U.S. technology giant as well hopes to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, a company spokeswoman said.

Google’s pledge marked an expansion of an initiative it launched in April 2016 to train young Africans in digital skills. It announced in March it had reached its initial target of training one million people.

The company is “committing to prepare an extra 10 million people for jobs of the next in the next five years,” Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told a company conference in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos.

Google said it will offer a combination of in-person and online training. Google has said on its blog that it carries out the training in languages inclunding Swahili, Hausa and Zulu and tries to ensure that at least 40 % of people trained are women. It did not say how much the programme cost.

Africa, with its rapid people increase, falling data costs and heavy adoption of mobile phones, having largely leapfrogged personal computer use, is tempting for tech companies. Executives such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s chairman Jack Ma have as well recently toured parts of the continent.

But nations like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, which Google said it would initially target for its mobile developer training, may not offer as much opportunity as the likes of China and India for tech firms.

Yawning wealth gaps mean that much of the people in places like Nigeria has little disposable gain, while mobile adoption tends to favour additional basic phone models. Combined with bad telecommunications infrastructure, that can mean slower and less internet surfing, which tech firms rely on to make money.

Google as well announced plans to provide additional than $3 million in equity-free funding, mentorship and working space access to additional than 60 African start-ups over three years.

In addition, YouTube will roll out a new app, YouTube Go, aimed at improving video streaming over slow networks, said Johanna Wright, vice president of YouTube.

YouTube Go is being tested in Nigeria as of June, and the trial version of the app will be offered globally later this year, she said.

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