Author Archives: Google Africa Blog

Google for Startups Accelerator Africa: Call for Applications for Women Founders

Women account for 17% of business founders in Africa, yet they receive a fraction of available capital. In 2021, African startups raised over $5 billion in funding across various sectors, with just 20% going to startups co-founded by women and only 1% of funding going to women-led startups. This is despite the fact that women make up half of the population and are increasingly dominant in the entrepreneurship space, with 58% of businesses in Africa being owned by women.

One example of a successful and innovative women-led startup in Africa is Pezesha, a micro lending platform founded by Hilda Moraa in Kenya. Pezesha leverages credit analytics and big data to offer users access to loans securely using mobile money, helping to digitize small businesses and tackle poverty and unemployment. The platform also improves financial literacy and increases business earnings, driving economic growth and improving livelihoods.

By increasing the representation of women in the startup ecosystem, we can help bridge the gap between the number of women-led startups and the amount and quality of support they receive, ultimately leading to more diversity and innovation.

This is why we are excited to announce the launch of the Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders Africa Program, which aims to support and empower women entrepreneurs in Africa by addressing these specific challenges.

The program will run for 12 weeks and will include both online and in-person sessions, starting in March and ending in May 2023. This program is part of our broader efforts to improve the representation of women across different sections and to provide resources, mentorship and a network of support for female entrepreneurs.

We believe that by providing access to funding, resources and mentorship, we can help to empower women founders to scale their businesses, create jobs and make a positive impact on their communities.

Applications for the program are open now through February 20th, 2023. We encourage all women building great tech startups in Africa or for Africa to apply to the program and take advantage of this opportunity.

Posted by Folarin Aiyegbusi, Head of Startup Ecosystem, Africa, Google


Meet The YouTube Black Voices Creator, Artist, Singer and Songwriter Class of 2023

We believe in the power and importance of amplifying Black stories. From content centered around fashion and wellness, to videos about comedy and politics, Black creators and artists continue to play an important role in shaping the culture of YouTube and driving the platform forward every day. That’s why, in 2020, we created the YouTube Black Voices Fund, a global, multi-year commitment to center and grow Black creators and artists on our platform, as well as to produce and acquire new YouTube Original programs, focused on racial justice and Black experiences.

As part of this Fund, we developed the YouTube Black Voices grant program, an initiative dedicated to equipping Black creators and artists with the resources to thrive on YouTube. Our first two classes have launched short films, topped Billboard charts, been nominated for and won Grammy Awards and so much more.

Today, we’re pleased to announce that the YouTube Black Voices Class of 2023 is here! It’s our biggest class yet with 179 grantees, hailing from around the world and innovating in every way. Meet the class below, discover your new fav creator, and keep an eye out for all of the exciting content they’ll create in 2023.


We’re honored to equip the talented creatives with resources to fuel their creativity. In the coming months, we will work closely with these creators by offering dedicated partner support from YouTube and seed funding to help them develop their channels and grow on our platform. They will also have opportunities to participate in bespoke training, workshops, and networking programs.

We built the YouTube Black Voices Fund to invest with an intention to present fresh narratives that emphasize the intellectual power, authenticity, dignity, and joy of Black voices, as well as to educate audiences about racial justice. This initiative also includes investing in the impact of our platform, and over the program, we've directly empowered more than 500 creators and artists from across the world to support, grow, and fund their channels and content development. In addition to the YouTube Black Voices Fund grantees who partner with YouTube directly, we’ll continue to support and connect with the wider global Black diaspora and communities through a wide range of programming and events.

The YouTube Black Voices Fund is only one facet of the comprehensive work currently underway to make YouTube a place where Black artists, creators, and users can feel empowered to share their stories. We continue to make product and policy changes to meet that goal and recently provided an update on our work to make YouTube a more inclusive platform, including how we handle harmful and hateful comments.

We can’t wait for you to hear more from the Class of 2023 as they continue embarking on their journeys as creators and artists, sharing their stories and their music!

Below is our full list of the #YouTubeBlackVoices 2023 creator class from Sub-Saharan Africa.

  1. 234 Drive   |     234drive    

  2. Agatha Nkirote    |     Agatha Nkirote        

  3. Banele Ndaba     |      Moghelingz    

  4. Caleb Orem     |     Ruthless Focus      

  5. Clarissa Magunde    |    Coffeenomilk       

  6. Dennis Akpan  |  Denixx Kreatives        

  7. Eniola Olanrewaju  |  Korty Eo 

  8. Happy Osereme Egbor   |    Stylebyreme        

  9. Gina Ehikodi Ojo    |      Foodies And Spice

  10. Ifeyinwa Mogekwu        Ify's Kitchen

  11. Izzi Boye    |    Izzi Boye       

  12. Joanne Wanja     |    Diy With Jojo

  13. Juliet Kane     |     Kane’s Kitchen Affair

  14. Kate  Wanjiku    |     Kate Kendy      

  15. Kelechi Anyanwu    |    Chantel Anyanwu        

  16. Latifat Omowunmi Kilani   |    Pot Of Flavours     

  17. Louis Ihuefo    |    Louis Ihuefo     

  18. Maryam Apaokagi-Greene    |    Taaooma’s Cabin   

  19. Martin Kihara        African Real Estate      

  20. Matlala Mokgehle      |    Zillewizzy   

  21. Millicent Mashile And Innocent Sadiki     |    Centtwinz TV

  22. Muzikayifani Sambo      |     Muzi Sambo        

  23. Mzwandile And Siza Ndlovu     |     Mzwandile & Siza      

  24. Olive Nkirote      |     Onr        

  25. Oluebube Belonwu     |   Bof Games        

  26. Oluwafemi Olaniyan   |   Femi Olaniyan        

  27. Oyisa Matebese     |     Ohsmallstuff    

  28. Perseverance Maremeni     |    Madam Speaker  

  29. Reginald Mohlabi      |    Reggie Mohlabi  

  30. Seithati Letsipa        Seithati Letsipa    

  31. Thulile Dlamuka       |    Thuli Madlamuka       

  32. Tokoni Iderima     |   Football Fans Tribe     

  33. Tumelo Moliko     |     Tumi Moliko   

  34. Tsoanelo Moyo     |     Tsoanieskits       

  35. Sebastian Ngida     |    Kenyan Entrepreneur

  36. Segun Oladapo-Ogunsanya    |    Kagan        

  37. Solina  Naidoo     |     Perima’s Kitchen        

  38. Sinikiwe Kademaunga     |    Sinikiwe Kademaunga        

  39. Susan Muriithi    |     Suzyshomestead

  40. Wongel Haile    |     Wongel Zelalem

    Posted by Alex Okosi, Managing Director, Emerging Markets, YouTube


    How building a YouTube channel helped a Muslim influencer on his faith journey

    Sharing religious advice online comes with a lot of responsibility and that’s not something Nasiruddin Shuraim Abdulmumin takes lightly. The 27-year-old YouTuber and TedX speaker started a channel called Did You Know Studios in 2016 to share his faith with his followers. Since then, he’s been interviewing some of the most influential figures in the world of Islam, touching on many taboo topics and educating his community about his religion.

    Having studied Islamic Theology at Al-Hikmah University, Shuraim knew he wanted to share a religious message but he wanted to deliver it differently, and YouTube became his platform of choice. So after his first interview with Mufti Menk, a scholar twice listed as one of the ‘500 Most Influential Muslims in the world’, he knew he had found his purpose. In 2017 Shuraim was invited to perform a pilgrimage as a guest of the King of Saudi Arabia.

    As his popularity grows, we spoke to Shuraim about why young people trust influencers more than religious institutions and how starting his channel helped him on his own personal faith journey.

    Why did you choose YouTube to share your spirituality?
    For me, YouTube was the easiest and least stressful way to spread my message. The restrictions that come from broadcasting on TV, for example, don’t exist with YouTube. There’s a lot more freedom and I think that’s very important when it comes to a topic like religion. You need to be able to speak freely and honestly. That is something I pride myself on - talking about issues that some people may consider controversial or taboo.

    Why would you say it’s very important to share some of the more taboo topics you discuss?
    Well, the question I always ask myself is: If I don't talk about it, then who will? The reason why I’m doing this is that I want people to be enlightened. I want them to feel comfortable coming forward with their troubles, talking about them and seeking help. The journey of enlightenment means answering difficult questions about behaviours and talking about things that make us uncomfortable. So If I’m not ready to cover taboo topics, then what would be the point of having this channel?

    With almost half a million views on your YouTube channel, how do you plan to grow your social profile to reach more followers?
    I am proud that my channel has grown very organically without any marketing. It’s gone from one subscriber to about 9000, and I think it’s because I’m offering something unique to my audience. However, I would like to reach a larger audience online so I’m planning to bring in some social media experts who can help me build my online following.

    Have you used Google’s tools, programmes or training to help your channel grow and be discoverable online?
    Google Search helped me a lot, especially in the early stages of starting my channel. I Googled so many different things to find inspiration for content, to see what other people were doing in the religious space and to watch how TV hosts conducted interviews. I believe that every young person needs someone to take them somewhere within themselves that they cannot get to by themselves. However, sometimes you don't have that person to hold your hand, so I used Google as a starting point to help discover and explore different ways I could share my spiritual message.


    Has starting this channel helped with your personal faith journey?
    Most definitely. Some people think that a lot of spiritual leaders just grew and became spiritual. But that’s not always the case, it’s a journey. When I’m interviewing my guests on YouTube, I’m learning from them too. These interviews are changing my whole perspective on life. I’ve learnt new behaviours, such as praying more regularly and I’ve learnt more about the person I want to become. Sharing my faith online has certainly helped me become a better human being and helped me become a better leader in my community. These are all things that I didn’t expect to happen when starting a YouTube channel. As I’ve grown within my own personal faith, it has made me feel more responsible. I intentionally make careful decisions for myself and the brand. For example, now that we have a studio, we can make better editing choices like deciding after a shoot that the content isn’t right for our audience. We can choose whether or not to release a video depending on if it’s beneficial to my community.

    Do you feel like you have a responsibility to your YouTube audience to provide advice and guidance?
    I do feel responsible, and that's why I'm very careful about who I choose to talk to on the channel. We carefully research each topic we feel is relevant and timely from sexuality to addictions and body issues. These are not just topics for Muslims, but for a wider audience too. People like myself, with a community that relies on us and trusts us for information and advice, should feel responsible because we have a duty to our audience.

    Why do you think young people’s trust in religious institutions is low, but trust in religious influencers is still high?
    Young people’s trust in religious institutions may be low right now but religious institutions are extremely important. They provide knowledge that is incalculable and forever valuable. Young people may tend to put religious scholars on a pedestal that seems out of reach while religious influencers like me are committed to making followers feel more comfortable and understood because we talk to them in a very relatable, human way. This often means when the scholars do something we disagree with or make a mistake, we lose all trust in them forgetting that they are human beings too. As influencers, we do need to be careful because people are looking up to us. We need to keep educating ourselves and be more prudent and sincere in whatever we do.

    With many Muslim influencers growing large digital followings, what is the future of the faith in the digital age?
    I don't think it's going to be very different, but it will definitely improve. Nowadays, a lot of people are sharing their religious knowledge online, and we even opened an online school during the Coronavirus pandemic. We had about 4000 students globally, Muslims and non-Muslims, and we had scholars from all over the world offering free classes for anyone interested in learning more about Islam. It really showed us that people are ready and willing to learn more about religion. That’s why we need to encourage as many clerics as possible to understand the importance of social media. Because we are in a time where a lot of people are very comfortable with learning and understanding faith digitally. So we need to make sure that the people who are experts in this field, who are maybe from a different or older generation, can reach audiences in person as well as online.

    What would be your advice for young people hoping to engage with spirituality today?
    My first piece of advice is to be open-minded. You can learn about religion from a range of different people, regardless of their faith. Secondly, as a young person, I think it’s important to find a mentor. Someone who will be there for you, who will guide you, who will love you sincerely and help you as much as they can on your spiritual journey. Thirdly, attaining spirituality doesn't mean you have to forget your humanity. Instead, you should be embracing it. Embrace how fickle you are, how imperfect you are and embrace your mistakes. It will bring you closer to the spiritual person you want to become. Finally, be patient with yourself during your personal journey. Focus less on societal pressures and be more self-accountable.

    Posted by Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communications & Public Affairs Manager, West Africa, Google.


    Helping African job seekers prepare for interviews

    Over the next five years, 300 million people will come online in Africa. Many of them are young, creative, and entrepreneurial, ready to drive new innovation and opportunity across the region. That’s why, in 2017, we committed to help 10 million Africans get the digital skills they need to grow their careers and businesses. So far, we’ve trained six million people through Grow With Google programs, including Google Career Certificates, which help people learn the skills they need to qualify for roles in fast-growing fields like data analytics, digital marketing & e-commerce, IT support, project management and UX design.

    But just as important as learning the skills to perform a new job, is learning the skills to land that job. This means knowing how to network, apply, build a resume and complete one of the most intimidating parts of a job search: the interview.

    Interviewing in a new field can be hard, especially if you don’t have access to friends, family or mentors in the field who can help you practise and prepare. That’s why we’ve been collaborating with job seekers to build a new tool called Interview Warmup. It lets you practise answering questions selected by industry experts, and it uses machine learning developed by Google Research to transcribe your answers and help you discover ways to improve. Preparing for interviews will always take a lot of work, but we hope this tool can make it a little easier for anyone to become more confident and grow comfortable with interviewing.

    On a white background, a waving hand emoji bounces next to text that reads “Hi! Let’s practise a job interview.” The view zooms out to show the interface of the Interview Warmup tool. A white pointer scrolls through six career fields, selects “IT Support” and is prompted to answer an interview question. The tool transcribes the user’s response and analyses it. The pointer clicks “most-used words,” highlighting words used multiple times. The pointer clicks one of those words to get suggestions about other words to use instead. The backdrop is plain white once more and text reading “Interview Warmup'' bounces on screen.

    With Interview Warmup, your answers are transcribed in real time so you can review what you said. You’ll also see insights: patterns detected by machine learning that can help you discover things about your answers, like the job-related terms you use and the words you say most often. It can even highlight the different talking points you cover in each answer, so you can see how much time you spend talking about areas like your experience, skills and goals. Your responses aren’t graded or judged and you can answer questions as many times as you want. It’s your own private space to practise, prepare and get comfortable.

    Interview Warmup was designed for Google Career Certificates learners, so it has question sets specific to each of the certificates. But it’s available for everyone to use and has general questions applicable to many fields. Every question has been created by industry experts. We’re sharing the tool in its early stages so we can get feedback from the community, find ways to improve it and expand it to be more helpful to more job seekers.

    We’re excited about tools like Interview Warmup because they show how new technologies have the potential to help more people practise the skills they need to grow their careers. Alongside programs like Google Career Certificates, Google Africa Developer Scholarships, and Digital Skills for Africa, these tools can help support the development of the African workforce and create more opportunities for African job seekers.

    Try Interview Warmup now at

    Posted by Mzamo Masito, Director, Marketing Sub-Saharan Africa


    Supporting African news organisations who are advancing media literacy

    Today, 72% of people surveyed in Kenya and Nigeria express concern about being exposed to false and misleading information. The interconnectedness of the spread of news and information today calls for each of us to play a role in advocating for media literacy.

    Our work at Google supports both journalists and fact-checking organisations who are doing the work to fight misinformation, and we help to create products and tools to help news consumers around the world better understand what they are seeing online.

    Today, we’re rolling out additional initiatives through the Google News Initiative (GNI) that will help African journalists and publishers to navigate the challenges and opportunities of changing news habits.

    Product Innovation
    Google is at its heart a technology company. We’ve invested in product features to support the fight against the spread of misinformation online and to advance media literacy. One example is About this Result, a feature in Search which provides critical context on a result before you visit the page, including how widely a source is circulated, whether a company is owned by another entity - all pieces of information that can provide important context.

    In Africa, we’re working with media lab Fathm (our partners in the UK) and publishers The Daily Maverick (South Africa), Premium Times (Nigeria) and The Standard Group (Kenya) to trial an entirely new way of delivering news to people across the continent. This pilot of ‘direct publishing’ will help innovative news outlets create interactive stories combining images, video and text and publishing them directly to users within the Android Messages app. The trial uses Android’s Rich Communication Service (RCS) to deliver news in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

    "Direct publishing is an exciting prospect that has the opportunity to enhance our brand of journalism,” said Styli Charalambous, CEO & Co-Founder of the Daily Maverick. “Digital offerings that go beyond passive consumption have the potential to elevate the service of journalism and attract new audiences. This project is innovative, with the potential to augment our offering and deliver on our mission. We jumped at the chance when asked."

    Fact Checking
    Africa Check was the first independent fact-checking organization established on the continent, and with support from Google they were able to both scale their training efforts across eastern Africa and help strengthen the local fact checking ecosystem. Africa Check will begin hosting ‘train the trainers’ fact-checking workshops, designed to improve the quality of information relied upon by millions of news consumers in Eastern Africa.

    "We train and mentor journalists in fact-checking to ensure that information shared with the wider public is accurate and verified,” said Dudu Mkhize, Head of Outreach at Africa Check. “Google will support our train-the-trainer programme to ensure that we have more trainers to train journalists across Africa, which will strengthen the information ecosystem on the continent as more journalists have the necessary skill to fact-check their reports."

    The trainers from this program will go on to support journalists working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Angola, providing guidance on fact checking, verification tools and techniques.

    Additionally, equipping journalists with the digital skills to find, verify and tell news stories online is critical. That’s why Dubawa will train 500 journalists in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Gambia with support from the GNI. The workshops will focus on equipping journalists with the digital skills to find, verify and tell news stories online.

    “Our mission at CJID and Dubawa is to enable a West African media that promotes democratic accountability for sustainable development,” said Dr. Tobi Oluwatola, Executive Director at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID). “We're excited that this partnership allows us to scale our fact checking and digital literacy capacity building to benefit hundreds of journalists across Anglophone West Africa.”

    Fact checking is critical even as information becomes more accessible globally. By supporting the ‘Africa Facts’ conference to be held in November in Nairobi, we want to help connect ideas and expert practitioners, and further strengthen fact checking across the continent.

    These new initiatives build on the media literacy training programme, WebRangers, that we facilitate with Media Monitoring Africa, focused on training teens in South Africa on how to identify and report misinformation.

    We believe the future of news across Africa is bright and support for it is critical. We are eager to continue finding ways to connect people to relevant and quality news across the region.

    Posted by Dorothy Ooko, 
    Head of Communications & Public Affairs, Google, Africa


    Preserving one of Nigeria’s last sacred groves

    Editor's note:

    The Honorable Minister of Information and Culture for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, authors this piece in which he talks about the new Osun Osogbo project by Google Arts and Culture, in collaboration with CyArk and the Adunni Olorisha Trust / Osun Foundation  Redefining, which exhibits this sacred UNESCO World Heritage Site and makes it accessible to everyone online.


    On the forested banks of the Osun river in Osogbo, Nigeria lies one of the last cultural sites of its kind. In this sacred grove, Yoruba deities are embodied in shapely, sculpted shrines and creativity and spirituality come to life. The Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove is a truly unique and special place.

    I’m truly delighted that, for the first time ever, the shrine and its surroundings have been digitized thanks to a collaboration between CyArk, Adunni Olorisa Trust/Osun Foundation and Google Arts & Culture. Now both are protected for posterity, so anybody from anywhere can explore them.

    I said when I visited in 2019 that it was important to refocus national and global attention on this site, and I’m glad we achieved our purpose. For even though this place of active worship and art is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and priceless cultural asset, it is in danger of destruction. Flooding and heavy rain due to climate change, along with a number of other risks to conservation, threaten the groves’ survival.

    This is why CyArk and the Adunni Olorisha Trust / Osun Foundation partnered with Google Arts & Culture to digitize the shrines and surroundings at Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove – and to tell the stories of its spiritual, artistic and cultural significance. In 2019, the grove’s Busanyin Shrine was wrecked in a flood; the 3D imagery captured in the early phases of the project were among the last images to be taken of the site before it was destroyed. So while this project may not stop the impact of flooding or the activities of land grabbers, it will ensure that future generations can see it as it is today.

    “CyArk's work in Osogbo has been a true collaboration between Nigerian government officials, local NGOs, the community of Osogbo and His royal highness Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun Larooye II, who have partnered with CyArk and are working together to share the stories of Osogbo with a wider audience.” - Kacey Hadick, Director of Programs and Development, CyArk.

    Although this flood was a devastating loss, it reinforces the importance of using a variety of tools to preserve the world’s cultural and spiritual places, from digital documentation to on-site restoration work. And this project highlights the broad spectrum of preservation that, in this case, can help protect a rich Yoruba cultural heritage – through 3D models, Street View, archival and contemporary photographs, video and audio interviews and written stories.

    Olufemi A. Akinsanya Akinsanya is Chair of the Save Our Art! Save Our Heritage! Campaign. He says, “We want to expose the world to this incredible Yoruba heritage and art treasure, introduce the remarkable artists of the New Sacred Art Movement who saved it from destruction in the 1960’s and champion the next generation who are preserving it now.”

    While a virtual experience of the site can never replace the real thing, we invite you to get lost in the Sacred Grove of Osun Osogbo and experience its art, culture, and preservation like never before on Google Arts & Culture.

    This work forms part of the Google Arts & Culture Heritage on the Edge project, which tells of how people around the world are using technology to help protect cultural sites against the effects of climate change.

    Google Arts & Culture and CyArk have collaborated with cultural heritage site managers to carry out similar digitization training sessions. Learn more about the stories of five other cultural sites impacted by climate change in Scotland, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Peru and Rapa Nui.

    Posted by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Federal Republic of Nigeria


    Voice typing for African languages

    For many people, using your voice to dictate text messages, emails and other text-based communications is easier and more accessible than typing on a keyboard. Voice typing (i.e. using your voice to dictate text) is currently not available for most of the 2,000+ languages spoken in Africa. In recent years, more data for African languages has become widely available, paving the way for this technology to become a reality for many more languages. As part of our commitment to serve Africa and its languages, we are excited to announce the release of voice typing for 9 more African languages.
    • isiNdebele
    • isiXhosa
    • Kinyarwanda
    • Northern Sotho
    • Swati
    • Sesotho
    • Tswana
    • Tshivenda
    • Xitsonga

    Along with the four African languages we already support: Afrikaans, Amharic, Swahili and Zulu, this release brings voice typing support to 13 African languages, and 80 languages total around the world.

    This development would not have been possible without two key advances in the state of the art for automatic speech recognition. The first advance is related to AI models for speech recognition. We employed a technique known as multilingual modeling, which uses data from multiple languages to train a single speech recognition model. This method allows the languages with less data to benefit from those with more data, to improve quality for all the languages. The second advance is related to data. In the last few years, communities, individuals and organizations have created and open sourced high quality datasets for African languages. 

    The languages launching today are possible thanks in part to the efforts of researchers and organizations in Africa to create and publish data (see our paper for the data we used for each language). In particular, we’d like to thank the creators of the NCHLT corpus for South African languages, without which many of the South African languages launching today would not have been possible. We’d also like to thank Digital Umuganda for their work in creating the Kinyarwanda corpus and publishing it on Mozilla Common Voice, one of the largest resources ever created for an African language. 

    Google is also working to collect data for more African languages, through our TaskMate and Crowdsource platforms, and we have partnered with universities and researchers on data collection projects, for example our work with the Bambara community and the Waxal speech data project.

    Wherever you want to type, whether it’s a message, an email, or posting on social media, try voice typing on your Android device with Gboard. It’s quick, easy and faster for your friends to read than a voice note :)

    Get set up on Gboard: 

    Posted by Sandy Ritchie, Linguist in the Speech Recognition team


    Delivering on our $1B commitment in Africa

    Last year our CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced that Google would invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years to support a range of initiatives, from improved connectivity to investment in startups, to help boost Africa’s digital transformation.

    Africa’s internet economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion by 2025 – 5.2% of the continent’s GDP. To support this growth, over the last year we’ve made progress on helping to enable affordable access and on building products for every African user – helping businesses build their online presence, supporting entrepreneurs spur next-generation technologies, and helping nonprofits to improve lives across the continent.

    We’d like to share how we’re delivering on our commitment and partnering with others – policymakers, non-profits, businesses and creators – to make the internet more useful to more people in Africa.

    Introducing the first Google Cloud region in Africa

    Today we’re announcing our intent to establish a Google Cloud region in South Africa – our first on the continent. South Africa will be joining Google Cloud’s global network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide.

    The future cloud region in South Africa will bring Google Cloud services closer to our local customers, enabling them to innovate and securely deliver faster, more reliable experiences to their own customers, helping to accelerate their growth. According to research by AlphaBeta Economics for Google Cloud, the South Africa cloud region will contribute more than a cumulative USD 2.1 billion to the country’s GDP, and will support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs by 2030.

    Along with the cloud region, we are expanding our network through the Equiano subsea cable and building Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi. In doing so, we are building full scale Cloud capability for Africa.

    Supporting African entrepreneurs

    We continue to support African entrepreneurs in growing their businesses and developing their talent. Our recently announced second cohort of the Black Founders Fund builds on the success of last year’s cohort, who raised $97 million in follow-on funding and have employed more than 500 additional staff since they were selected. We’re also continuing our support of African small businesses through the Hustle Academy and Google Business Profiles, and helping job seekers learn skills through Developer Scholarships and Career Certifications.

    We’ve also continued to support nonprofits working to improve lives in Africa, with a $40 million cash and in-kind commitment so far. Over the last year this has included:

    • $1.5M investment in Career Certifications this year bringing our total funding to more than $3M since 2021
    • A $3 million grant to support AirQo in expanding their work monitoring air quality from Kampala to ten cities in five countries on the continent;
    • A team of Google employees who have joined the Tony Elumelu Foundation for 6 months, full-time and pro-bono. The team helped build a new training web and app interface to support the next million African entrepreneurs to grow and fund their businesses.

    Across all our initiatives, we continue to work closely with our partners – most recently with the UN to launch the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI), aimed at accelerating Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development.

    Building More Helpful Products for Africa

    We recently announced plans to open the first African product development centre in Nairobi. The centre will develop and build better products for Africans and the world.

    Today, we’re launching voice typing support for nine more African languages (isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Kinyarwanda, Northern Sotho, Swati, Sesotho, Tswana, Tshivenda and Xitsonga) in Gboard, the Google keyboard – while 24 new languages are now supported on Google Translate, including Lingala, which is spoken by more than 45 million people across Central Africa.

    To make Maps more useful, Street View imagery in Kenya, South Africa, Senegal and Nigeria has had a refresh with nearly 300,000 more kilometres of imagery now helping people virtually explore and navigate neighbourhoods. We’re also extending the service to Rwanda, meaning that Street View is now available in 11 African countries.

    In addition to expanding the AI Accra Research Centre earlier this year, the Open Buildings Project, which mapped buildings across the African continent using machine learning and satellite imagery, is expanding to South and Southeast Asia and is a great example of the AI centre creating solutions for Africa that are useful across the world.

    Delivering on our promise

    We remain committed to working with our partners in building for Africa together, and helping to unlock the benefits of the digital economy for more people by providing useful products, programmes and investments. We’re doing this by partnering with African organisations, businesses and entrepreneurs. It’s the talent and drive of the individuals in the countries, communities and businesses of Africa that will power Africa’s economic growth.

    Posted by Nitin Gajria, Managing Director, Google Africa


    Respecter notre engagement d'un milliard de dollars en Afrique

    L'année dernière, notre PDG, Sundar Pichai, a annoncé que Google investirait 1 milliard de dollars en Afrique au cours des cinq prochaines années pour soutenir toute une série d'initiatives, allant de l'amélioration de la connectivité à l'investissement dans les startups, pour aider à stimuler la transformation digitale de l'Afrique.

    L'économie Africaine de l'internet pourrait atteindre 180 milliards de dollars d'ici 2025, soit 5,2 % du PIB du continent. Afin de soutenir cette croissance, nous avons progressé au cours de l'année dernière en aidant à permettre un accès abordable et en créant des produits pour chaque utilisateur Africain – en aidant les entreprises à développer leur présence en ligne, les entrepreneurs à développer des technologies de nouvelle génération, et les organisations à but non lucratif à améliorer les conditions de vie sur le continent.

    Nous aimerions partager la manière dont nous respectons notre engagement et dont nous travaillons en partenariat avec les autres - les décideurs politiques, les organisations à but non lucratif, les entreprises et les créateurs - pour rendre l'internet plus utile à un plus grand nombre de personnes en Afrique.

    Présentation de la première région Google Cloud en Afrique

    Nous annonçons aujourd'hui notre intention d'établir une région Google Cloud en Afrique du Sud - notre première sur le continent. L'Afrique du Sud rejoindra le réseau mondial de Google Cloud, qui compte 35 régions cloud et 106 zones dans le monde entier.

    La future région cloud en Afrique du Sud rapprochera les services Google Cloud de nos clients locaux, leur permettant d'innover et d’offrir en toute sécurité des expériences plus rapides et plus fiables à leurs propres clients, contribuant ainsi à accélérer leur croissance. Selon une étude réalisée par AlphaBeta Economics pour Google Cloud, la région cloud de l'Afrique du Sud apportera une contribution cumulée de plus de 2,1 milliards de dollars au PIB du pays et favorisera la création de plus de 40 000 emplois d'ici 2030.

    Parallèlement à la région du cloud, nous étendons notre réseau par le biais du câble sous-marin Equiano et la construction de sites d'Interconnexion Dédiés au Cloud (Dedicated Cloud Interconnect) à Johannesburg, au Cap, à Lagos et à Nairobi. Ce faisant, nous mettons en place une capacité de Cloud à grande échelle pour l’Afrique.

    Soutenir les entrepreneurs Africains
    Nous continuons à soutenir les entrepreneurs Africains dans la croissance de leurs entreprises et le développement de leurs talents. Notre deuxième cohorte du Fond des Fondateurs Noirs (Black Founders Fund), annoncée récemment, s'appuie sur le succès de la cohorte de l'année dernière, qui a levé 97 millions de dollars en financement complémentaire et a employé plus de 500 personnes supplémentaires depuis sa sélection. Nous continuons également notre soutien aux petites entreprises africaines par le biais de la Hustle Academy et des Profils Commerciaux Google (Google Business Profiles), et nous aidons les demandeurs d'emploi à acquérir des compétences grâce à des Bourses d'Etudes pour Développeurs (Developer Scholarships) et aux Certificats de Carrière (Career Certificates).

    Nous avons également continué à soutenir les organisations à but non lucratif qui s'efforcent d'améliorer les conditions de vie en Afrique, avec un engagement en espèces et en nature de 40 millions de dollars à ce jour. Au cours de l'année dernière, cela a inclus :
    • Un investissement de 1,5 million de dollars dans les Certifications de Carrière cette année, ce qui porte le financement total de à plus de 3 millions de dollars depuis 2021
    • Une subvention de 3 millions de dollars pour soutenir AirQo à étendre ses activités de surveillance de la qualité de l'air de Kampala à dix villes dans cinq pays du continent;
    • Une équipe de Googlers qui ont rejoint la Fondation Tony Elumelu pour 6 mois, à temps plein et pro-bono. L'équipe a contribué à la création d’une nouvelle interface web et d’une application de formation pour soutenir le prochain million d'entrepreneurs Africains à développer et à financer leurs entreprises.

    Dans le cadre de toutes nos initiatives, nous continuons à travailler en étroite collaboration avec nos partenaires - tout récemment avec l'ONU pour lancer l’Initiative Mondiale pour les Entreprises en Afrique (Global Africa Business Initiative - GABI), qui vise à accélérer la croissance économique et le développement durable de l'Afrique.

    Créer des Produits Plus Utiles pour l'Afrique
    Nous avons récemment annoncé notre intention d'ouvrir le premier centre Africain de développement de produits à Nairobi. Le centre développera et fabriquera de meilleurs produits pour les Africains et pour le monde entier.

    Aujourd'hui, nous lançons la prise en charge de la saisie vocale pour neuf langues Africaines supplémentaires (isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Kinyarwanda, Sotho du Nord, Swati, Sesotho, Tswana, Tshivenda et Xitsonga) dans Gboard, le clavier Google - tandis que 24 nouvelles langues sont désormais prises en charge par Google Translate, dont le Lingala, qui est parlé par plus de 45 millions de personnes en Afrique Centrale.

    Pour rendre les Cartes (Maps) plus utiles, l'imagerie Street View au Kenya, en Afrique du Sud, au Sénégal et au Nigeria a été rafraîchie avec près de 300 000 kilomètres d'images supplémentaires permettent désormais aux utilisateurs d'explorer virtuellement les quartiers et d'y naviguer. Nous étendons également le service au Rwanda, ce qui signifie que Street View est maintenant disponible dans 11 pays Africains.

    En plus de l'expansion du Centre de Recherche AI d'Accra (the AI Accra Research Center) plus tôt cette année, le Projet Open Buildings, qui a cartographié les bâtiments du continent Africain à l'aide de l'apprentissage automatique et de l'imagerie par satellite, s'étend à l'Asie du Sud et du Sud-Est et constitue un excellent exemple de la création par le centre d’IA de solutions pour l'Afrique qui sont utiles dans le monde entier.

    Respecter notre promesse
    Nous restons déterminés à travailler avec nos partenaires pour construire ensemble l'Afrique et aider à faire profiter un plus grand nombre de personnes des avantages de l'économie digitale en fournissant des produits, des programmes et des investissements utiles. Pour ce faire, nous travaillons en partenariat avec des organisations, des entreprises et des entrepreneurs Africains. C'est le talent et le dynamisme des individus dans les pays, les communautés et les entreprises d'Afrique qui alimenteront la croissance économique du continent.

    Publié par Nitin Gajria, Directeur Général de Google Afrique

    Using praise and worship to connect with Gen Z online in a global crisis

    The Covid-19 pandemic fundamentally shifted the way we live. From school life to working arrangements and even church, we adapted to the new normal the pandemic introduced. Stories and Songs, a musical collective from Kenya, decided to take praise and worship online and share their message through music and stories. As studies suggest Gen Z are doubling down on spirituality, many young people turning to platforms like YouTube to find camaraderie and community. We spoke to Stories and Songs about the future of religion, using their platform to save lives, and the difference between connecting online vs in real life.

    When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Stories and Songs saw an opportunity to share their spirituality online. The world was changing, and with it, the traditional church was disappearing. By building a YouTube channel, the Kenyan music collective was able to grow a community of viewers eager for a new way to worship. 

    Eric Mayore, Brady Odete, Ben Mbasu, David Ogara, Wanjira Maathai, Threzer Alando, Manasseh Shalom


    As content creators discussing spirituality, how has YouTube given you a platform to build your profile?
    YouTube is easily accessible to a lot of different people, no matter what country they are in. Most of our followers are from Kenya, but we also have viewers from Tanzania and Uganda so it’s really allowed us to have a wider reach. We actually started with both Facebook and YouTube, but we realised that most of our audience was spending more time on YouTube so we decided to focus specifically on that channel.

    What inspired you to start your YouTube channel?
    When Covid hit, it forced everyone to look at new ways of worshipping. The pastor at our church started a new online series on Facebook and we all watched it. There are 15 of us in Stories and Songs, and most of us work in production. So we all came together, called him, and said we wanted to contribute and help produce something high quality with great music.

    After four or five videos with him, we decided to get our own independent channel so it wasn’t attached to a particular church or religion. It became a channel for anyone that wanted to hear praise and worship songs, with some relatable stories, no matter their religious background.

    We had someone in the comments say “I’m not religious or a Christian. I just listen to the songs because it reminds me of my childhood,” which shows just how much our music resonated with fans.

    Our ambition was to share good music but the channel has turned into more than that. People are opening up and sharing with us and each other. It’s a good feeling to know that we’ve created a place where people feel comfortable online because social media isn’t always so welcoming.

    Did you look at the work of other spiritual YouTubers?
    We didn’t really do that much research on other YouTubers. We just started it, and then along the way, we realised that we were doing something different. Most of the churches we saw on YouTube, had a sermon with praise and worship, much like a traditional church. So we decided to do something different for your younger target audience. For us, we just wanted to focus on the music and funny stories in between. Stories that lift people's spirits and make them feel good. We wanted to move away from the traditional into a more modern way of connecting with our Gen Z community.

    Stories & Songs Live in concert
    How does YouTube help you connect with your followers, the Christian community and your faith?
    The YouTube comment section has helped us connect with our followers and community in ways that we may not have been able to do in a traditional church setting. Through the live streams and content we upload, our interactions are mainly via the comments. It enables us to see where people's lives are, or what they are going through at that moment. Or even what they want from us as content creators so we can create better videos for them.

    When we look at our live chats during a stream, we’ll see more engagement during certain songs or verses. This lets us know what people like or dislike, or how they are feeling during a particular season. It helps us think about how we can better help our audience, how we can improve our production and even decide on themes to explore in future videos. For example during Covid, a lot of people were going through depression and isolation and we could see that from the comments. So we decided to come up with a theme about healing to help our audience.

    With almost 4 million views on your YouTube channel, what helped you grow and how do you plan to expand your social community?
    We were even surprised by that number to be honest, but for us, we don't focus on the views, it's more about the value we provide. Something that has definitely helped us grow has been listening to what followers say in the comments.

    At first, our focus was on trying to make as much content as we could, then some of our audience started asking us to make shorter videos with just one or two songs because watching long YouTube videos was causing their data bundles to finish more quickly, so that’s what we did.

    Because we have a big team, each one of us would share our videos on our personal social channels, with our friends, and then they shared them with their friends. So we were able to grow quickly, organically mostly through good old word of mouth.

    Now we would like to reach people all over the world. Most of our audience is from East Africa but we want Stories and Songs to be watched all over the world. We’re hoping our young, digital community can help us reach that goal. Earlier this year, we were able to do a concert and 400 people came from our YouTube community. That was really inspiring to us, seeing how much our fans connected with us in real life too.

    How different was it to connect with people in person versus online?
    It was interesting because it’s almost like we’ve already built strong connections with our audiences via YouTube and we even know some of our fans quite well. So when they came to the physical event, it was just like a meet-up of friends. It felt like we had already known each for so long and had that mutual respect for each other.

    But the live experience is quite different from the online one. We even had some feedback saying that we should stick to YouTube instead of live concerts. Because with YouTube, you’re able to go back to watch something when you want, you can save a video and share it. But you can’t do that with a live performance. It's a one-time thing. So once it's done, it's done. On YouTube, our videos and our message lives on forever.

    How do you use digital or social platforms to connect with your community of devoted followers?
    We use different tools for different things. So for our prayer requests, we use Instagram. Although we do ask people to share prayer requests on our YouTube Live videos. We’ve found that it’s just easier to have one means of communication, which for the longest time has been YouTube.

    Have you used YouTube/ Google’s tools, programmes or training to help your channel grow and be discoverable online?
    We haven't done any training yet, but of course, we use the YouTube tools to check our analytics, to find out who our audience is. It’s helpful to find out the demographics to see how and where we are growing. We also just started using YouTube Shorts and we’re hoping to explore that more. We found out from our analytics that most of our audience watch our videos on their phone so we’re trying to use formats like Shorts to capture their attention on mobile.

    Have you faced any resistance/scepticism when sharing your faith/spirituality online?
    Not really. It’s been quite positive. When we started this whole thing, we were lucky to be in a bubble of friends and like-minded people, so the only criticism would come from ourselves. For us, we're not making videos for ‘likes’ or anything like that. It was more like “okay, guys, we have this talent - let’s use it, let’s share it”.

    Why do you think young people’s trust in religious institutions is low, but trust in religious influencers is still high?
    There's this whole thing with religious institutions having a certain way of doing things, that you have to stick to. That doesn’t work for Gen Z. They want to do things their way, they want to worship in their own way. They are more individualistic and they don’t believe that religion is only one way. I think what influencers are showing them is this is what works for me but you can do religion the way you want to do it, in a way that feels good to you. They’re not enforcing strict rules, it’s relatable.

    A reason why we tend to focus on just short stories and relevant songs is that we’ve seen that Gen Z prefers things that are short and sweet. If they can learn or experience something quickly and they have a good time doing it, they prefer that. They don’t have to sit through a four-hour church service to connect to God or other Christians. They can also watch a short video from Stories and Songs to feel like they are part of a spiritual community. Religious influencers are good at listening to what their audience wants and creating content around that. Maybe Gen Z feels this is lacking with some religious institutions.

    Do you think the perception of religion and spirituality is changing as Gen Z share their faith more openly online?
    The whole thing about being online is that people are freer. They have more freedom of speech. They talk about their spirituality, they talk about their religion. Because people are sharing their beliefs in different ways online, the perception of it is changing from something very strict to something more flexible. There’s a lot less judgement. You know in some churches you might feel eyes watching you if you don’t stand up during the songs or if you don’t pray loudly enough. Online, you won’t be judged for “doing the wrong thing”. People can be more anonymous online and that allows them to be more vulnerable and ask for help when they need it.

    What do you think Christianity will look like in the next 5-10 years?
    The future of Christianity is digital. With Covid, we saw churches go online. But even though churches are open now, they are still running their services through platforms like YouTube, Facebook, or on their website. With the church that we used to go to, the number of people that came back after Covid is quite low compared to the number of people that were there before. With time, people will appreciate the fact that church is available online any time or day you want. It’s not just reserved for Sundays. It’s just a click away.

    What would be your advice for young people hoping to engage with spirituality today?
    People need to kind of just accept who they are and be comfortable in their own skin. Find like-minded spaces and like-minded people. Find them online if you can’t find them in person and connect with them.

    Also, young people should follow their heart in what they believe in and be consistent. As long as it helps them to grow because growth is important and if you're moving one step ahead, that can only be a good thing.

    Posted by Dorothy Ooko, Head of Communications & Public Affairs, Google, Africa


    Celebrating South Africa’s heritage through its diverse art

    Editor's note: Our guest piece is by Mathabo Kunene, Executive Trustee of the Mazisi Kunene Foundation. She writes about the "I Am Because You Are: A Celebration of South African Creativity" initiative, done in partnership with Google Arts & Culture to highlight South Africa’s rich heritage through art seeped in meaning and cultural value.

    In the early 90s I met Paul Mikula for the first time. I was taken in by his deep respect and love for traditional African art which he described as a true embodiment of Ubuntu. This African concept can be roughly translated as ‘I Am Because You Are’ and it epitomizes deep respect and understanding of our fellow human beings. On 24 September, we officially celebrate Heritage Day in South Africa, a time when we honor each other’s cultures and salute our diverse traditions and beliefs in a nation which belongs to all its people.

    It is a great honor for me to unveil I Am Because You Are: A Celebration of South African Creativity, an online hub on Google Arts & Culture which showcases South Africa’s rich heritage through art seeped in meaning and cultural value. The hub is home to the largest digitisation effort from Google Arts & Culture in South Africa to-date. A key component of the project is the large-scale digitisation of Phansi Museum’s vast archive which is now available online for the first time. Over 5000 artworks and cultural artifacts have been photographed in high resolution, allowing visitors to zoom into the intricate beadwork, meticulous carving and detailed weaving used in traditional southern African art. Viewers can also dive into stories from some of the country’s most prominent museums including Johannesburg Art Gallery and Origins Centre. Read on to learn more about the journeys available through this remarkable project.

    1. Stories of Ubuntu

    Discover the meaning of Ubuntu and its influence in the Phansi Museum and listen to an audio interview with Paul Mikula who describes how the concept inspires him. Take in a 360 virtual tour of each of Phansi Museum’s themed galleries or learn about South African culture through five traditional art works.

    2. Celebrate South African Women

    In a series of curated exhibits, University of Pretoria shines light on a set  of works which honor cultural attire and practices of South African women. The works were made in  the ‘80s  by illustrator Barbara Eleanor Harcourt Tyrrell who captured her subjects with great sensitivity and respect for their lived experience.  Tyrrell created the paintings for her book African Heritage and while the book may be difficult to find, the works are now available as part of the beautifully curated online project. Learn about women from Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal.

    3. Traditional Healing

    Learn about indigenous healing practices in southern Africa through stories which introduce medicinal and healing rituals belonging to different South African cultures.Throwing Bones: Divination in Southern Africa takes viewers through the complex system of bone throwing performed by Sangomas, so that the ritual way in which objects are selected and the significance of how they fall is brought to light. The exhibit Magic, Metamorphosis and Medicine allows viewers to enter into San belief systems and to learn about Therianthropes and the beauty of San rock art.

    4. Museums in 360
    Using Google technology, Google Arts & Culture has worked with South African institutions to capture their spaces in 360 allowing visitors to the platform to tour Johannesburg Art Gallery’s vast and beautifully installed exhibits, enter into San Rock art at the Origins Centre and discover the life of artist Helen Martin at the Owl House.

    5. Contemporary Art
    In addition to the beautiful traditional art that is now available on the platform, this project also profiles contemporary South African artists who explore identity and ideas of the self through their works. In Journeys Into Textile and Identity five South African artists who work with textiles are profiled and the diverse rand of media they work in as well as their unique approach to fabric and fashion is explored. Artist Lohla Amira also claims space on the platform where her installation from 2020’s Sydney Biennale is shown, In the work spaces for rejuvenation and memory are created through beaded curtains placed above a ceremonial healing bed of salt while sounds of singing specifically made for healing and transforming the body into a space of wellness, ancestral connection and self care.

    Posted by Mathabo Kunene, Executive Trustee at Mazisi Kunene Foundation