Author Archives: Nitin Gajria

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.

Image shows Director for Cloud in Africa, Niral Patel, next to a heading that announces Google's intent to establish its first Cloud region in Africa

Niral Patel, Director for Cloud in Africa announces Google's intention to establish Google's first Cloud region in Africa

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 Google.org 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 Googlers 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, theOpen 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.

Source: Translate


African developers: creating opportunities and building for the future

Every day, African businesses harness ingenuity to empower their communities. African software developers are an engine for digital transformation in local economies across the continent, and there’s no one better to solve challenges than local developers, founders, and entrepreneurs. And as African startup funding reaches unprecedented levels (growing by over 2.5x in 2021 over the previous year), understanding Africa’s developer landscape is key to support the growth of these startups.

For the second year in a row, Google published the Africa Developer Ecosystem report to map Africa’s developer landscape. We expanded this edition of the report to include year-on-year growth analysis, tech ecosystem components and key growth factors. The research was conducted in 16 African markets (Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda) and the findings were extrapolated to the rest of the continent.

Here are the five key takeaways from our study:


1. Africa’s developer population is growing across the continent.

We found that COVID-19 has continued to shape both the tech community at large and the nuances of the developer experience. Despite a contracting economy, the pool of professional developers increased by 3.8% to make up 0.4% of the continent’s non-agricultural workforce. Salaries and compensation also rose, and more developers secured full-time jobs.

2. VC investment in African startups rebounded as the digital economy expanded.

As local businesses transitioned online across the continent, they boosted the need for web development and data engineering skills. African startups raised over $4bn in 2021, 2.5x times more than in 2020, with fintech startups making up over half of this funding. The shift to remote work also created more employment opportunities across time zones and continents for African developers while lifting the pay for senior talent. As a result, international companies are now recruiting African developers at record rates.

3. Learners, junior developers, as well as underrepresented groups including women, need more support.

These groups faced challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without access to in-person education — or affordable, reliable internet access and at-home equipment — they struggled to make gains last year. This can be seen in how the gender gap between men developers and women developers widened: there are 2.5% fewer women developers in the workforce than there were in 2020.

4. Educators, technology companies and governments are undertaking initiatives to strengthen the developer pipeline.

Educators, tech companies and governments can help developers succeed by improving internet access, education and business support. Bootcamps and certifications, run as part of formal and informal education, are working to bridge the vocational training gap between traditional education and employment moving forward. Global technology companies are investing in digital skill building across the continent to improve job readiness and alleviate the tech talent bottleneck. Governments can also play a vital role in strengthening the developer pipeline by investing in both internet access and education.

5. Nigeria is a striking example of the symbiotic relationship between digital transformation and developer growth in Africa.

The developer ecosystem in Nigeria is thriving, thanks to strong demand for developer talent, significant support from big tech, and Nigerian startups raising the largest total amount of funding on the continent in 2021. Nigeria had the highest number of new developers of all countries surveyed, with 5,000 additional developers joining Nigeria's developer population in 2021. As countries like Nigeria continue to transform, they will unlock more opportunities for developers, who in turn, grow the economy.

To support the continued growth of Africa’s developers, technology companies, educators and governments are tackling local challenges through innovative partnerships and programs. Google is committed to supporting developers at each stage of their journey through regional developer training, community, and mentorship programs, including Google Developer Groups, Google Developer Student Clubs, Women Techmakers and Google Developer Experts.

Supporting journalism in Africa

Citizen journalism is playing a crucial role in helping South African communities unite. Food for Manzi is one organization which tells the untold stories of rural communities and agriculture in South Africa to challenge stereotypes and spread positivity. With support from the Google News Initiative, they set up the Sinelizwi citizen journalism project which trained 62 citizens from all nine Provinces to tell local stories to empower and unite local communities.

Projects like this are why Google invests in the Google News Initiative (GNI), and this week we held the first GNI for Africa event.

The event is an opportunity for journalists, publishers and content creators in Africa to find out more about Google’s training programmes for journalists and news business professionals. From understanding how small and medium size news organizations can grow their digital business to how to use consumer insights and data to better understand reader preferences and increase profitability and engagement, the event brings together experts from Google and the industry to share tools, training and best practices.

The news landscape in Africa is changing fast. In five years, the number of people accessing digital platforms for news content has almost doubled, opening up access to news and supporting a new generation of independent and digital media. Yet not everyone has the opportunity to access digital media, and many more people and communities are not represented in the news. Organizations working to change this, like Pulse in Nigeria, were also part of the event. They spoke about how they have used new digital formats to engage a mass youth audience and developed formats like Explainers to provide additional — and very much needed — context to the flow of information.

At the event, we also announced a partnership with UNESCO to further invest in training for journalists in Africa. Using its networks of established journalism schools, UNESCO will launch a collaborative programme to update journalism education and training programmes run by over 100 expert institutions in Africa, enabling them to better respond to the major changes in journalism and publishing in recent times. This new training initiative will roll out over the next 18 months.

Google is increasing its investment in and support of journalism in Africa, including hiring a News Lab Teaching Fellow who provides locally relevant training for journalists in Southern Africa and programmes such as the Digital Growth Programme andInnovation Challenges which support publishers in their digital transformation. To be part of this training send an email to [email protected]

Watch the sessions from the event on YouTube.

Bringing digital skills training to 30,000 farmers in Vietnam

Nguyen Thi Tham
Farmer Nguyen Thi Tham receives basic training on how to use her smartphone to navigate the internet

Nguyen Thi Tham has worked as a farmer her entire life. She has always relied on her neighbors for information about the weather and market conditions, and she always thought she was too old to use the internet. But after a few lessons, she is now able to search for the weather forecast in Bac Giang province online, and knows exactly when to cover and protect her crops from the elements so she can harvest and sell more vegetables, even after heavy rains.

Nearly 50 percent of Vietnam’s population—or about 45 million people—are farmers just like Tham. They rely on farming for employment and their livelihoods. But, like many places around the world, income from agriculture is declining and productivity is low, with just 20 percent of the country’s GDP coming from the sector. This is a huge challenge for a country that depends so heavily on farming.

Technology combined with basic digital literacy can transform lives and give rise to new opportunities. That’s why, with a Google.org grant and technical expertise from Google volunteers, we’re helping the Vietnam Farmer’s Union (VNFU) deliver digital skills training to at least 30,000 farmers over the next three years.

Through online and offline training programs on how to find information on the internet, use basic productivity tools, or navigate agricultural apps, we hope more farmers across Vietnam will be able to boost productivity and their overall quality of life. We look forward to scaling the program through VNFU’s broad network (4 out of 5 households in Vietnam have someone who’s a member of the VNFU) and with their deep experience educating their beneficiaries.

Bringing digital skills training to 30,000 farmers in Vietnam

Bringing digital skills training to 30,000 farmers in Vietnam

Over the course of conducting research and several pilot trainings since the end of 2016, we’ve spoken to farmers who use the internet to improve efficiency in other ways. Some told us that they no longer needed to travel for miles to compare crop prices or the cost of farming equipment. And some were able to search for information to help them treat common ailments afflicting their animals, saving them a visit to a veterinarian several villages away.

During these pilot trainings, we also learned that many farmers already have internet access at home, or even their own smart devices, but they don’t necessarily know how to use them to their full potential. So we expanded the trainings to include the farmers’ children or grandchildren. Through this “buddy” system, pairing farmer and child, the farmers have someone at home to help them, and in this way, we hope the training program will have longer-lasting and more wide-ranging impact.

While we may not be able to reach every farmer across Vietnam, we hope that newfound digital literacy skills will lead to incremental improvements in the ways and lives of many farmers like Tham, and contribute to better outcomes for their communities.

Bringing digital skills training to 30,000 farmers in Vietnam

Nguyen Thi Tham
Farmer Nguyen Thi Tham receives basic training on how to use her smartphone to navigate the internet

Nguyen Thi Tham has worked as a farmer her entire life. She has always relied on her neighbors for information about the weather and market conditions, and she always thought she was too old to use the internet. But after a few lessons, she is now able to search for the weather forecast in Bac Giang province online, and knows exactly when to cover and protect her crops from the elements so she can harvest and sell more vegetables, even after heavy rains.

Nearly 50 percent of Vietnam’s population—or about 45 million people—are farmers just like Tham. They rely on farming for employment and their livelihoods. But, like many places around the world, income from agriculture is declining and productivity is low, with just 20 percent of the country’s GDP coming from the sector. This is a huge challenge for a country that depends so heavily on farming.

Technology combined with basic digital literacy can transform lives and give rise to new opportunities. That’s why, with a Google.org grant and technical expertise from Google volunteers, we’re helping the Vietnam Farmer’s Union (VNFU) deliver digital skills training to at least 30,000 farmers over the next three years.

Through online and offline training programs on how to find information on the internet, use basic productivity tools, or navigate agricultural apps, we hope more farmers across Vietnam will be able to boost productivity and their overall quality of life. We look forward to scaling the program through VNFU’s broad network (4 out of 5 households in Vietnam have someone who’s a member of the VNFU) and with their deep experience educating their beneficiaries.

Bringing digital skills training to 30,000 farmers in Vietnam

Bringing digital skills training to 30,000 farmers in Vietnam

Over the course of conducting research and several pilot trainings since the end of 2016, we’ve spoken to farmers who use the internet to improve efficiency in other ways. Some told us that they no longer needed to travel for miles to compare crop prices or the cost of farming equipment. And some were able to search for information to help them treat common ailments afflicting their animals, saving them a visit to a veterinarian several villages away.

During these pilot trainings, we also learned that many farmers already have internet access at home, or even their own smart devices, but they don’t necessarily know how to use them to their full potential. So we expanded the trainings to include the farmers’ children or grandchildren. Through this “buddy” system, pairing farmer and child, the farmers have someone at home to help them, and in this way, we hope the training program will have longer-lasting and more wide-ranging impact.

While we may not be able to reach every farmer across Vietnam, we hope that newfound digital literacy skills will lead to incremental improvements in the ways and lives of many farmers like Tham, and contribute to better outcomes for their communities.