Tag Archives: Google in Africa

Understanding Africa’s $180B internet economy future

Genetic scientists study human DNA to better understand medical conditions and how to treat diseases. But their research is often based on samples that don’t actually reflect the world’s population. Around 80 percent of the human DNA used in genetic studies is from people of European descent. This means that researchers are often unable to study and address conditions that affect global ethnicities. 

In January 2019, Abasi Ene-Obong, a young tech engineer from Nigeria, founded 54gene with the aim of making gene studies more representative by increasing access to African genomic data—which currently accounts for less than 3 percent of all genetic data sets. After securing two rounds of funding, 54gene has gone on to complete a fully resourced biobank in Lagos, crucial to support academic research, drug development, and disease detection.

Ene-Obong’s story is just one example of how talented African entrepreneurs are creating new opportunities across the continent. As a new report from Google and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) shows, the startup ecosystem is helping drive Africa’s internet economy towards a projected value of $180 billion by 2025, or 5.2 percent of the continent’s GDP. 

We collaborated on the report—titled ”e-Conomy Africa 2020: Africa’s $180 billion internet economy future”—to highlight the strengths and challenges of the internet economy today, and to better understand where it might go in the future. Here are some other things we learned. 

Startups in Africa are progressing and reaching new milestones

According to Partech Ventures Africa, African tech startups reached a new milestone in 2019 with $2.02 billion of equity funding raised. That’s 74 percent more than in 2018, and represents an average deal size of $8.08 million.  

At the forefront of the internet economy’s growth are startups in sectors like financial technology (fintech),  e-commerce, health, e-logistics, e-mobility and food delivery. Fintech leads the way in terms of funding, receiving 54 percent of all African startup investment in 2019. This indicates high investor trust, which is significant given the sector’s important role serving unbanked and financially excluded Africans.

One example is the Nigerian digital payments and commerce platform Interswitch, which received $200 million in equity funding from Visa in 2019, as well an IFC investment of $10.5 million. These investments came at a time of big growth for the electronics payment market, and, as a result, Interswitch has helped transform the infrastructure of Nigeria’s banking system, while extending its services to 23 other countries. 

E-commerce startups have also shown strong growth, thanks to improved digital payment services and a rise in mobile technology and payment channels. In 2019, e-commerce accounted for $134 million in funding across 30 deals--a 36 percent increase in the number of deals compared with 2018. With COVID-19-mandated lockdowns in countries across the continent, consumers have quickly gotten much more used to e-commerce, and their new online shopping behavior may well extend beyond the pandemic.

Infographic on Africa's internet economy

Young developer talent is shaping the future 

The African developer scene boasts 700,000 professional software developers, many of them trained through university programs, others self-taught. 

There’s an enormous amount of talent, but these developers need help to find jobs and take their ideas forward. 

Coding classes, like those offered by Google, Decagon, Gebeya and others, are helping close knowledge and skills gaps, while professional communities continue to grow.  There are more than 160 active Google Developer Groups and 200 Developer Student Clubs in Sub-Saharan Africa, offering training and support to help developers meet job requirements. And since its launch in 2018, theGoogle for Startups Accelerator Africa program has worked with 47 startups from 17 African countries—helping them develop products and build successful companies and products. One of the 2016 global accelerator graduates, Nigerian fintech startup Paystack, was recently acquired by Stripe for over $200 million.

IFC is also playing its part to advance digital skills development, making investments in regional startups and accelerators that cultivate tech talent. Gebeya—a company IFC supports in Ethiopia—has trained over 500 young software developers, most of whom are women, and is providing seed funding to 30 graduates to pursue their own digital ventures. IFC investee Flat6Labs is fostering tech entrepreneurship (and women entrepreneurs in particular) by directing early stage funding to startups in both Egypt and Tunisia.

Whether it's helping startups grow, training developers or providing tools for small businesses, both Google and IFC are committing to bringing the benefits of technology to millions more people across this extraordinary continent. We invite you to read the report and learn more about the opportunities unfolding throughout Africa’s thriving internet economy.

Mashujaa: Celebrate the communities of Kenya with Google Arts & Culture

Today in Kenya we’re celebrating Mashujaa Day, or National Heroes Day, and honoring the remarkable people who have shaped our nation. We are shining the spotlight on a pantheon of cultural and folk heroes, and how their superpowers continue to be the strength and heartbeat of not only the communities from which they came, but all of Kenya. We need days like these to remind us how our shared heritage and our diversity unites us as people, and it is therefore with great pride that I unveil the second chapter of the online project Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya, created in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya, Google Arts & Culture and the creative agency Shujaa Stories


Originally launched in 2019, Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya is Google’s most ambitious digitization project to date in Africa, and one of the first digital content features on the subject of Kenyan communities. Everyone can now explore over 10,600 high-resolution photographs, 170 expert-curated exhibits, 80 Street Views of 16 sites and learn more about the intangible heritage and stories of the country’s 44 communities officially registered by the government. The exhibits shine light on the regions, history, traditions, morals, worldview and wisdom of Kenya’s communities, some of whose stories—usually passed on through oral history—have been written down and shared online for the first time.

Today, on Mashujaa Day, I am delighted to announce that we now have at least one superhero for each of our 44 communities, and I invite you to explore their stories on Google Arts & Culture. Originally conceived by the late Masidza Sande Galavu and Jeff Muchina of Shujaa Stories, the first 21 heroes were unveiled at an exhibition at the National Museums of Kenya  and online as part of Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya. Now, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia, the Director General of the National Museums of Kenya, a dedicated team of researchers, curators, academics and young creatives has worked to bring 40 more stories to life. They have travelled far to get first-hand knowledge of the communities and passionately researched, documented and illustrated a total of 61 heroes spanning cultures, generations, gender and geography.

The government’s collaboration with Google Arts & Culture has democratised access to Kenya’s rich heritage and enabled more people to discover our culture and human connections in new, exciting and interactive ways. It has also encouraged real-life visits to the country’s museums, monuments and heritage sites.

I encourage you to read each of the stories, and be inspired by the achievements and bravery of each superhero. They are a celebration of the values and the heritage of the peoples of Kenya and of our unity in diversity. I would like to echo the words of the great author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who said, "The peoples of Kenya have an incredible richness of history and culture. Learning from what we already have, from all the communities, is the way into the world."

Mashujaa: Celebrate the communities of Kenya with Google Arts & Culture

Today in Kenya we’re celebrating Mashujaa Day, or National Heroes Day, and honoring the remarkable people who have shaped our nation. We are shining the spotlight on a pantheon of cultural and folk heroes, and how their superpowers continue to be the strength and heartbeat of not only the communities from which they came, but all of Kenya. We need days like these to remind us how our shared heritage and our diversity unites us as people, and it is therefore with great pride that I unveil the second chapter of the online project Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya, created in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya, Google Arts & Culture and the creative agency Shujaa Stories


Originally launched in 2019, Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya is Google’s most ambitious digitization project to date in Africa, and one of the first digital content features on the subject of Kenyan communities. Everyone can now explore over 10,600 high-resolution photographs, 170 expert-curated exhibits, 80 Street Views of 16 sites and learn more about the intangible heritage and stories of the country’s 44 communities officially registered by the government. The exhibits shine light on the regions, history, traditions, morals, worldview and wisdom of Kenya’s communities, some of whose stories—usually passed on through oral history—have been written down and shared online for the first time.

Today, on Mashujaa Day, I am delighted to announce that we now have at least one superhero for each of our 44 communities, and I invite you to explore their stories on Google Arts & Culture. Originally conceived by the late Masidza Sande Galavu and Jeff Muchina of Shujaa Stories, the first 21 heroes were unveiled at an exhibition at the National Museums of Kenya  and online as part of Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya. Now, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia, the Director General of the National Museums of Kenya, a dedicated team of researchers, curators, academics and young creatives has worked to bring 40 more stories to life. They have travelled far to get first-hand knowledge of the communities and passionately researched, documented and illustrated a total of 61 heroes spanning cultures, generations, gender and geography.

The government’s collaboration with Google Arts & Culture has democratised access to Kenya’s rich heritage and enabled more people to discover our culture and human connections in new, exciting and interactive ways. It has also encouraged real-life visits to the country’s museums, monuments and heritage sites.

I encourage you to read each of the stories, and be inspired by the achievements and bravery of each superhero. They are a celebration of the values and the heritage of the peoples of Kenya and of our unity in diversity. I would like to echo the words of the great author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who said, "The peoples of Kenya have an incredible richness of history and culture. Learning from what we already have, from all the communities, is the way into the world."

Powering economic recovery through retail

Progetto Quid is a small fashion business in Verona, Italy that provides employment opportunities for women coming out of difficult situations. When the company closed its stores during the lockdown, it  started making non-medical masks,  safeguarding its business and the future of its workers. Within two months they’d sold 700,000 masks, using Google Ads to reach their customers. As a result of switching production they were able to retain their entire staff.


This is just one of many stories of resilience we’ve heard from businesses small and large as they look to sustain themselves and support their communities. At Google, we’re helping retailers accelerate recovery with training, tools and insights to help them adapt fast. Through September we ran Accelerating Retail, a month of training and collaboration, directly engaging with more than 7,500 retailers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and many more in partnership with industry bodies such as HDE in Germany and One to One Monaco in France. Listening to retailers of all types across so many countries has helped us to adapt and develop the products and services that we’re now launching to support economic recovery around the world. 


Helping retailers find more customers with free listings on the Shopping tab 

We’re now making it free for retailers to list their products on the Shopping tab throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Available globally in mid-October, search results on the Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping retailers to connect with more customers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. Shoppers will be able to find more products from more stores, just in time for peak shopping season across the region. 


For retailers who already use Google Ads to reach potential customers, free product listings in the Shopping tab are a boost to your paid campaigns. In the U.S., where we launched successfully earlier this year, retailers running free listings and ads got an average of twice as many views and 50 percent more visits. Small and medium-sized businesses saw the biggest increases since the free listings launched there.
Blogpost Phone Close Up - Final 2.gif

If you already use Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don't have to do anything to take advantage of this change; your listings will automatically show up at no cost. And we are making the onboarding process as easy as possible for retailers who are new to this over the next weeks and months. In Europe, you can also choose any Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) to work with free listings.


Connecting people with trusted local professionals

Many people are shopping locally as they spend more time at home, and searches containing "available near me" have doubled around the world. In the first half of 2020, searches for local services, like home improvement or maintenance, increased by over 25 percent in a year across a  range of European countries.


To help trusted businesses reach local customers, we’re announcing the launch of Local Services Ads in 10 European countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.


Local Services Ads help people discover and connect with trustworthy local professionals—such as plumbers, house cleaners and electricians—backed by the Google Guaranteebadge. Potential customers can see license information and reviews from previous customers, and they can compare and contact providers. You don’t even need a website to use these ads, and you only pay when contacted by a customer—there’s no charge for people clicking on the ad. People can book services directly with a simple phone call. If you're a platform that's already connecting customers with professionals you can expandyour offering to include Local Services Ads.
GGL UK Google SMB Local Services Combined DE&UK Phone_2 Sep20.png

Local Services Ads in Germany and the UK

Getting small businesses online

An online presence has never been more critical for a business’s success. But, according to 2019 YouGov research, around a third of small businesses in six European countries surveyed don’t even have a website. 


To help small business owners take their first steps online, this month we launched Google for Small Business in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. It provides personalized plans including guidance on which tools are right for your business. We’ve also recently expanded Grow My Store, which helps local retailers drive customer traffic and improve their online shopping experience, to Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Spain. We plan to roll out both Google for Small Business and Grow My Store to more countries before the end of the year.  


Digital tools and skills have been a lifeline in lockdown. By working together, they can be a catalyst for accelerating recovery —for retailers, their staff, customers, and the wider economy.

Powering economic recovery through retail

Progetto Quid is a small fashion business in Verona, Italy that provides employment opportunities for women coming out of difficult situations. When the company closed its stores during the lockdown, it  started making non-medical masks,  safeguarding its business and the future of its workers. Within two months they’d sold 700,000 masks, using Google Ads to reach their customers. As a result of switching production they were able to retain their entire staff.


This is just one of many stories of resilience we’ve heard from businesses small and large as they look to sustain themselves and support their communities. At Google, we’re helping retailers accelerate recovery with training, tools and insights to help them adapt fast. Through September we ran Accelerating Retail, a month of training and collaboration, directly engaging with more than 7,500 retailers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and many more in partnership with industry bodies such as HDE in Germany and One to One Monaco in France. Listening to retailers of all types across so many countries has helped us to adapt and develop the products and services that we’re now launching to support economic recovery around the world. 


Helping retailers find more customers with free listings on the Shopping tab 

We’re now making it free for retailers to list their products on the Shopping tab throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Available globally in mid-October, search results on the Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping retailers to connect with more customers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. Shoppers will be able to find more products from more stores, just in time for peak shopping season across the region. 


For retailers who already use Google Ads to reach potential customers, free product listings in the Shopping tab are a boost to your paid campaigns. In the U.S., where we launched successfully earlier this year, retailers running free listings and ads got an average of twice as many views and 50 percent more visits. Small and medium-sized businesses saw the biggest increases since the free listings launched there.
Blogpost Phone Close Up - Final 2.gif

If you already use Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don't have to do anything to take advantage of this change; your listings will automatically show up at no cost. And we are making the onboarding process as easy as possible for retailers who are new to this over the next weeks and months. In Europe, you can also choose any Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) to work with free listings.


Connecting people with trusted local professionals

Many people are shopping locally as they spend more time at home, and searches containing "available near me" have doubled around the world. In the first half of 2020, searches for local services, like home improvement or maintenance, increased by over 25 percent in a year across a  range of European countries.


To help trusted businesses reach local customers, we’re announcing the launch of Local Services Ads in 10 European countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.


Local Services Ads help people discover and connect with trustworthy local professionals—such as plumbers, house cleaners and electricians—backed by the Google Guaranteebadge. Potential customers can see license information and reviews from previous customers, and they can compare and contact providers. You don’t even need a website to use these ads, and you only pay when contacted by a customer—there’s no charge for people clicking on the ad. People can book services directly with a simple phone call. If you're a platform that's already connecting customers with professionals you can expandyour offering to include Local Services Ads.
GGL UK Google SMB Local Services Combined DE&UK Phone_2 Sep20.png

Local Services Ads in Germany and the UK

Getting small businesses online

An online presence has never been more critical for a business’s success. But, according to 2019 YouGov research, around a third of small businesses in six European countries surveyed don’t even have a website. 


To help small business owners take their first steps online, this month we launched Google for Small Business in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. It provides personalized plans including guidance on which tools are right for your business. We’ve also recently expanded Grow My Store, which helps local retailers drive customer traffic and improve their online shopping experience, to Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Spain. We plan to roll out both Google for Small Business and Grow My Store to more countries before the end of the year.  


Digital tools and skills have been a lifeline in lockdown. By working together, they can be a catalyst for accelerating recovery —for retailers, their staff, customers, and the wider economy.

World Tourism Day: How digital skills can support recovery

After months of isolation while living in quarantine, travel is the leisure activity that I miss the most. And I’m not alone. Our research, conducted with the Boston Consulting Group, shows that 31 percent of people hope to plan leisure travel once they feel safe enough to do so. 

World Tourism day is coming up on September 27, and Search trends show that people have the travel bug: In June, the top three travel-related Search queries were: “When can we travel again?” “When will international travel resume?” and “When will it be safe to travel again?” In August, the top queries were related to where and when people can travel “right now.” In fact, 45 percent of the top 100 questions related to travel focused on the impact of COVID-19 and  the desire to travel as safely and as soon as possible.

Graph showing travel survey results

Where do travelers want to go right now? Heading to the beach and visiting rural areas or small towns are top of the list, particularly for Italians and the Dutch.

Adapting to the new normal of travel

The tourism industry relies on historical data to predict future demand. But in the current highly-volatile environment, this is no longer adequate. That's why we share high-level data and insights about fast-rising travel categories in Google Search like domestic vacations (with search terms like “country holiday” or “car hire near me”); where in the world searches are growing; and the queries associated with them. 

Our data and analyses, available on our Think with Google site, can help tourism businesses identify new trends in consumer preferences. For example, as people increasingly search for local and outdoor tourism, businesses can react to these changing needs by doing marketing campaigns that highlight nature destinations, and they can prepare for an uptick in last-minute bookings.

Partnering with tourism ministries, travel experts and the travel business sector 

We're partnering with government ministries, businesses and experts throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa to foster digital skills in the travel sector. For example, we’ve worked with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to train tourism officials and businesses on a range of digital tools to engage travellers at home, and encourage future travel when possible. And our first UN & Google Tourism Acceleration Program will take place virtually this Wednesday, September 23, designed for UN member states' tourism ministers, top travel associations, tourism boards and destination marketing organizations. It will focus on travel and tourism insights from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria so participants can better understand shifts in behavior and adapt their products and offerings to meet new demands.

To further support  new solutions in the sector, Google for Startups Spain is launching a Growth Academy for TravelTech startups. The eleven selected businesses will partner with experts from Google to develop tailored strategies for acquiring new customers and partnerships to grow their businesses.

We also partnered with Atout France, the France tourism development agency, to share demand and consumer trends with their members, and we co-conducted digital marketing webinars for more than 600 French travel businesses and organizations to support their recovery efforts.

And in Greece, we launched #greecefromhome, an at-home continuation of Grow Greek Tourism Online, a digital skills program in partnership with the Greek Ministry of Tourism. #greecefromhome gave virtual tours of Greece and provided free digital skills training for over 6,000 Greek tourism businesses during the lockdown. This builds on our efforts to support the tourism sector across the region, helping them grow with digital tools, get access to training and digitize their heritage

While this World Tourism Day marks a uniquely challenging period for tourism, it’s also an opportunity to prepare and find new ways to engage with would-be travellers. We remain optimistic about the travel industry’s future, and about the role that our tools can play to help it recover.

“Accelerating Retail” in Europe, Middle East and Africa

Online tools have been a lifeline for many in lockdown, helping people stay connected with loved ones, work remotely, access news and information, and shop for essentials. The use of technology by people and businesses leapt forward perhaps five years over a period of eight weeks, and internet usage increased by 60 percent. Changes in consumer behavior are driving businesses to adapt the way they communicate with customers, while retailers around the world have seen their business models turned upside down.


Because of this big shift, digital tools and skills will be a vital catalyst to accelerate an economic comeback. Earlier this summer we pledged to help 10 million people and businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa find jobs, digitize and grow over the next 18 months. Retail, which accounts for more than 9 percent of jobs in the EU alone, will play a pivotal role in the recovery.


Today we’re kicking off "Accelerating Retail," a month of activities dedicated to helping retailers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa accelerate their business recovery and growth to be ready for what comes next. We’re helping retailers of all sizes across the region be ready for the peak shopping season, and working in close partnership with local commerce and trade associations in many countries. Over the next month, we'll introduce new products, tools, free training, unique real time insights and other resources—what follows is a brief snapshot of some of this.

Consumer needs have changed, and retailers need to respond

As the world around us has changed, consumer online shopping has leapt forward and decision-making has become more complex. Our Decoding Decisions study identified a “messy middle,” the space between a consumer starting their research and making a purchase, where they navigate the explosion of choice and information available to them both online and offline. 


The messy middle has become even messier over the course of the pandemic—our needs changed, product and store availability became unpredictable. Shoppers have become more open to new brands and outlets, but they also need more help than ever to find the right product at the right price at the right time and place. This big shift is an opportunity for retail businesses large and small. 


We’re here to help retailers respond effectively—so they can quickly understand and act on consumer changes while building their brand both at store and online.

Recovery and growth through digital 

Online retail demand has grown exponentially, and businesses need a great customer experience to be competitive and build brand recognition. That’s why we’re rolling out a new version of Grow My Store in multiple countries, including Germany, France, Netherlands and Turkey. Grow My Store helps local businesses improve digital shopping, grow customer traffic and optimize online customer experience,  to successfully complete  transactions. Any business can enter their website URL into the tool to receive a customized report, industry benchmarks, digital traffic trends and actionable tips to improve. 

Grow my Store.gif

We’re also making it easier for retailers to reach the right potential customers. We’ll be upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to help with new customer acquisition and simplify advertiser onboarding. 

Meanwhile, for the first time we’ve released insights for specific fast-rising retail categories around the world via a new interactive tool in Google Search—including the queries associated with them.

What's next for online shopping

As online spend continues to grow, retail success will depend on delivering an integrated online/offline purchase experience. New research we’ve conducted in collaboration with Euromonitor found that in the next five years, most purchases will still be made in store—but retailers who bring together their digital and in-store offerings will make the biggest gains even if customers eventually choose to buy in store. Since consumers shop both online and offline, multichannel retailers and online marketplaces will drive 86 percent of the sales growth by 2024. The future of retail is not about either physical or online presence but an integrated consumer experience.

While there might be more change and uncertainty on the horizon, retail is critical to every region’s broader economic recovery. By embracing digital opportunities, retail businesses can drive resilience and growth. 

Look out for our "Accelerating Retail" updates through September—we're here to help retailers make the most of digital opportunities and prepare for what's next.

Join the Africa Day virtual festivities

An annual celebration of African unity, Africa Day commemorates the founding of the African Union. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, thinking about a “Borderless Africa: Celebrating Commonalities” has a special resonance. 

We’re lending our support to the (virtual) festivities: We kicked things off yesterday on YouTube with the Africa Day Benefit Concert At Home, in partnership with Viacom and MTV Base. The two-hour special, hosted by Idris Elba, will bring together multiple African artists: Angelique Kidjo, Burna Boy, Sauti Sol, Sho Madjozi, Diamond Platnumz and more. The concert showcases the continent’s music and raises awareness for MTV Base’s fundraising campaign for UNICEF and the UN World Food Program, which are providing assistance to Africans affected by COVID-19.

If the concert leaves you wanting more, head over to YouTube Music and check out our Africa Day playlist: Between the afrobeat, a bit of house and African soul, you’ll be getting a musical tour of the continent from your home. Along with contemporary artists like Eddy Kenzo, Lady Zamar, Sauti Sol and Wizkid, it also draws from the sounds of great African voices past, such as Fela Kuti, Hugh Masekela and Johnny Clegg.

For more of our shared cultural heritage and creativity, visit the online exhibit 11 Ways to Celebrate Africa Day at Google Arts & Culture. Discover what unites us across art, food, music, fashion, people, landmarks and more.

Peruse the collections of 26 cultural institutions, or use search tools like color and time to explore over 15,000 photographs. Get the party started with a hearty bowl of jollof rice, visit theGreat Pyramid of Giza, feel the beat of theAfrican drum, and zoom into the intricate beadwork of a Ndebele cape. Or turn your home into a gallery: With Art Projector you can virtually place the artwork ofMary Ogembo in your living room—or step inside Tanzania’s Gereza Fort through augmented reality. 

Happy Africa Day from all of us at Google Africa.

Funding 21 news projects in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey

Finding new and meaningful ways to engage readers is a hot topic for news organizations of any size, and the first Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa prompted a myriad of different approaches. The GNI Innovation Challenges,  part of Google’s $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age, saw news innovators step forward with new thinking. In South Africa, Daily Maverick proposed a “relevancy engine” that would aggregate data feeds about reader behavior for small and medium publishers. In Jordan, podcast startup Sowt looked to tackle the challenge with a new hosting platform for news podcasts.


We launched the Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge last June, and received 527 applications from 35 countries. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, we selected 21 projects from 13 countries to receive $1.93 million in funding.


The call for applications listed four criteria: impact, feasibility, innovation and inspiration, and the successful projects clearly demonstrated all four. Here are just a few of the awardees (you can find the full list on our website):


  • Demirören Teknoloji Anonim Şirketi in Turkey wants to solve the tagging process for the Turkish language to help with the news discovery distribution process. Currently this work requires cumbersome manual work from their journalists, taking a precious share of their time. 

  • Daily news publisher Israel Hayom will be creating a loyalty scheme where online users get real-life rewards in the form of tickets or money-saving offers. 

  • Nas News wants to engage Iraq’s citizens in video debates for positive change with a mobile-first social and news platform that allows users to read and debate on local and national topics.

  • L'Orient le Jour in Lebanon wants to build a new loyalty plan to offer special and personalized privileges to subscribers via an interactive platform.

  • The National in the UAE will develop a service that converts quality text news into audio in real time, in both English and Arabic.

  • Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria will be increasing personalization across their platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement.

A second round of theMiddle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge will open for applications later in the year: Watch for details on our website.

A safer internet for Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Chances are you’re reading this in a country that formally recognizes Safer Internet Day—an initiative that originated in the European Union two decades ago and is now observed in as many as 150 countries around the world. 

Whether you’re spurred into doing a Security Checkup, trying our Phishing Quiz, or setting digital ground rules through Family Link, you’ll know the importance of safety in your online life. We take your safety online seriously, and are investing heavily in building, developing and sharing tools and projects to help you and your family stay safer.

Last year, we opened the Google Safety Engineering Center (GSEC) in Germany as the center of that ongoing investment. At this hub of global privacy engineering, we’ve built products such as Password Manager, which scans hundreds of millions of passwords every day and warns you if any of your credentials have been compromised. More than 100 million users have run a Password Checkup since we launched the feature last year.

More than 1,000 employees now work at GSEC, combining the best in privacy and safety engineering, product development and user experience design to help make the digital world work for everyone more safely.

Helping children learn how to be safer online

Because you want your children to be able to make the most of the web safely, we developed Be Internet Awesome in 2017 to help make digital safety knowledge as accessible as possible. Since then, we have trained millions of children through the program in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. And today, we’re launching in four more countries: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and the Netherlands. 

With Be Internet Awesome (InternetHelden in the Netherlands) Google works with non-governmental organizations to teach children how to be safer, more confident explorers of the online world. For example, we help children practice smart tactics for analyzing and evaluating information, sharing media with care, creating strong passwords, and handling bullying. 

We’re proud that the program has been awarded the Seal of Alignment by the International Society for Technology in Education, and pleased to make it available to many more children.

Helping experts make the online world safer

We know Google can’t tackle online safety alone, so we’re partnering with cross-sector experts and developers to address evolving challenges on the web. Just this month, we announced the 29 grant recipients of the Google.org Impact Challenge on Safety, a €10 million fund to support organizations across Europe who are working to address hate, extremism and child safety. 

One of them—Mama Chat, from its headquarters in Italy—has built a chat service that gives free and anonymous support for women and girls in need. Another, the Fare Network, is working to fight racism in football. You can learn more about all the grantees on our Google.org Impact Challenge website

Helping protect your devices from attack

And of course we’re continuing to build improvements into the core of our products and services that help protect people from harm. 

For example, over the last year, we made our strongest security program more accessible than ever before, by enabling you to use your Android or iOS phone as a security key instead of a standard physical security key that you need to carry around. You shouldn’t need to be an expert in computer security to stay safe, which is why this year we’ll continue to build best-in-class security features to help keep you protected against evolving online threats wherever you are on the internet.

To learn more about our resources to help keep you and your family safer, please visit the Google Safety Center