Tag Archives: Google in Africa

Everyone needs a holiday – but when and where?

Every day, millions of people around the world turn to Google to search for travel related information. These searches help connect businesses and customers — but they also help us understand people’s enthusiasm when it comes to their travel and holiday plans.

The message we’re seeing is clear: people are eager to travel, so long as they can do so safely.

Trending questions people ask about travel in January vs. May 2021

Trending questions people ask about travel in January vs. May 2021

For the travel industry — an industry that is made up of millions of small and medium businesses that supports many millions of jobs — this will of course be welcome news. But it comes with unique challenges.

Getting online to be in line - for bookings, customers and reviews

Over the past year, we’ve all spent a lot of time online — more time than ever before. So the travel industry, like many others, will need to get online in order to be in line for bookings, customers and reviews.

Anew report by the Connected Commerce Council, funded by Google, shows that digital tools created a "safety net" for small and medium travel businesses in Europe during the pandemic:  86% increased digital tool use during the pandemic and over half of these businesses said they are planning to increase their use of digital tools post-pandemic.

We’re proud to have built tools to help. Since last year, Google has been collaborating with individual businesses, tourism ministries and experts all over the world to build the digital skills needed for a more digital post-pandemic travel sector.

Our partnership with the UN World Tourism Organisation has built acceleration programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe — helping participants from across the travel industry to understand trends and plan ahead at a very unpredictable time.

We recently announced our plans to take this regional partnership global — helping tourism officials and destination marketers all over the world make strategic decisions for better tourism planning.

We’re also working with the industry at a local level. In France, our partnership with Atout France, the French tourism agency, has helped create a platform for industry professionals to monitor travel trends. In Spain, our Travel Analytics Center — available to Google’s commercial partners in the travel sector — helped Spanish airline Vueling to get a clear picture of the changing demand for flights during the pandemic, adapting their digital market strategy to reach customers who were likely to buy airline tickets. Using the tool, they managed to increase their flight sales and build a 31% return on their advertising investment.

Pull-quote from Caroline Leboucher on Google Hotel and Destination Insights tool

Finally, our work with Ministries of Tourism, Tourism Boards and cultural institutions has helped to promote travel to cultural destinations, including a virtual exploration of Lagos' Afrobeats and Alte music scene and seven places not to miss when visiting the city.

Google Arts & Culture: Eko for Show: Explore Lagos

Google Arts & Culture - Eko for Show: Explore Lagos

Predicting the future of travel

While tourist destinations and travelers are beginning to regain confidence after months of standstill from the pandemic, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to predict what future demand will look like.

Traditionally, tourist destinations would use historical data — but no former seasons can accurately predict when and where people will want to travel now, and what the ‘new normal’ that businesses will be operating in will look like.

That’s why we launched Travel Insights with Google, a website that features real time local data insights, helping the travel industry to understand demand and make better-informed decisions.

The website has two powerful tools. The first — the Destination Insights tool — helps governments and travel organisations better understand the destinations people are searching for, whether abroad or within their own countries. For example, we might see that German or Austrian travelers are most interested in visiting Croatia, and particularly places like Zagreb or larger coastal destinations. This insight helps businesses, destination marketers and Governments to map the return of travel — and make clear, informed choices about where to communicate with potential future visitors.

Our second tool, Hotel Insights with Google helps hotels of all sizes to understand where demand for their property may be coming from, so that they can better target and attract new guests. It also provides valuable tips on creating a strong digital presence — helping travel businesses to get online and attract bookings, customers and reviews.

Both tools are available globally for free in English with local versions in Europe in Spain, Greece, France, Italy and Croatia — with more languages to come very soon.

Search trends show that as vaccines roll out, travel interest appears to be on the rebound. People want to travel as they feel more confident to book a trip. Since mid-May, search interest has grown over 50% for flights across Europe with Spain, Italy and France topping the list of desirable destinations.

Top 10 trending vacation destinations in Europe

Top 10 trending vacation destinations in Europe

Search trends also show us that outdoor trips are still in style. In the summer of 2020, searches for outdoor recreation reached a 10-year high point, and this trend continues, with theme parks and RV rentals proving particularly popular.

Our commitment to the travel industry

There’s no denying that operating a business in a post-pandemic world can be a little uncertain. But at Google, we want to do our bit — delivering the insights and tools that the industry needs to give customers the travel experience they deserve.

We’ll be working even more closely with the industry as borders begin to open up, domestic travel increases, and international travel restarts.

No matter how quickly or slowly that recovery takes place, we’re committed to supporting travel and tourism - and the many people and businesses that depend on it.

Celebrate Africa Day through culture and music

Africa is home to more than 1.5 billion people, and each country, community and person has an incredible story to tell. Through the power of technology, artists and cultural institutions are using online platforms to share their stories and engage with new audiences.

This year, we’re hosting the Africa Day Benefit Concert in collaboration with MTV Base Africa and Idris Elba. We invite you to tune in at 7 PM CAT this evening to experience a musical homage to this amazing continent, and its next generation of pop stars making headlines across the world.

The concert is the culmination of Africa Month, which we’ve celebrated through YouTube Music and Google Arts & Culture. We’ve hosted a live performance by Sauti Sol, a talk on theLeading Women in Music, and the launch of the projectÈkó for Show: Explore Lagos. Music unites Africa, and we hope the concert tonight will bring Africans and people from other parts of the world together to celebrate the continent's roots, rhythms and records.

As we celebrate Africa Day today, we invite you to explore the continent's rich cultural heritage through curated online experiences on YouTube and Google Arts & Culture. We hope Africans and people from all over the world will be inspired by these activities that bring together the continent's roots and rhythms.

10:25

Africa Day Concert hosted by Idris Elba

Step inside Africa’s cultural institutions

There are thousands of iconic museums, galleries and cultural sites in Africa, including Kenya's African Heritage House. Virtually visit 32 cultural institutions across the continent and read over300 expert-curated stories on art, identity, music, fashion, food and more. 

Search for your favorite African artist and click on the Art Projector feature to display their artwork in front of you. Start with paintings byAli Omar Ermes, Ben Enwonwu, Mohammed Khadda, Nja Mahdaoui, Wangechi Mutu, William Kentridge and Wosene Worke Kosrof.

Discover more about contemporary African art and its artists by visiting Jean Pigozzi’s Pocket Galleryin augmented reality. Can you spot the paintings by artistChéri Samba and Esther Mahlangu?

Exterior of the African Heritage House, Deidi von Schaewen, African Heritage House

Exterior of the African Heritage House, Deidi von Schaewen, African Heritage House

Be inspired by Africa's trailblazing women

Let the voices of women from the past and present inspire you. Meet a courageous freedom fighter, let Mama Nike ignite your creativity, learn about activist Winnie Mandela's bravery, take in the remarkable story ofQueen Tiye and score a goal with a strong women's football team.

10:25

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Learn about Kenyan heroes and explore the future

Step back in time with 61 Kenyan heroes and discover how they fought for their communities’ land, freedom and spiritual well-being. Take the quiz to find out who your super alter-ego would be. 

Drawing on Afrofuturism, be inspired by artists from the diasporaand Osborne Macharia to create your own Afrofuturist world. Release your inner superpowers and let your imagination be your guide.

Superheroes of Kenya, Shujaa Stories and National Museums of Kenya, 2020

Superheroes of Kenya, Shujaa Stories and National Museums of Kenya, 2020

Feel the buzz of Lagos and explore South Africa

Step inside Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city, with Èkó for Show, and let over 100 creatives inspire you. Start singing Afrobeat tunes with Reekado Banks, paint the lagoon withVictor Ehikamenor, meet the stars of Nollywood with Iké Udé and letDavido inspire your taste buds. 

Continue your journey to South Africa and feel the urban vibe with musicians Busiswa andMuzi. Let them take you on a personal city tour and learn how Durban and Johannesburg have impacted their lives.

Èkó for Show: Explore Lagos, Google Arts & Culture

Èkó for Show: Explore Lagos, Google Arts & Culture

Celebrate the power of African literature

Let poet Siphokazi Jonas'love letter to her home country inspire you, and learn more about what identity means to author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.Share Africa’s greatest stories by joining the #AfricaReads challenge with YouTube. Share a video of yourself reading a book by your favorite African author, or watch how people across the continent came together to read Lọlá Shónẹ́yìn's novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives.

Crack the hieroglyphic code

Still curious about words and languages? We challenge you to crack the hieroglyphic code from Ancient Egypt with the AI-powered toolFabricius.You can also use emojis to create secret codes with friends.

Fabricius: Learn, Play, and Work, Google Arts & Culture

Fabricius: Learn, Play, and Work, Google Arts & Culture

Explore and protect Africa’s wildlife and natural wonders

Africa is home to some of the world's most extraordinary wildlife and nature. Learn more about the importance of conservation with thelast male northern white rhino or join a virtual game to meet Africa's big five: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo.

If you’re one for appreciating nature, we invite you to check out the people of Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania, and learn how planting mangrove trees and using technology can help save historical ruins and communities.

Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape, South Africa, South African Tourism

Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape, South Africa, South African Tourism

Turn your lens on Africa

Join Africa's photographers in capturing and sharing culture in new ways. Be inspired by legendary photojournalist James Barnor, take a look back at 10 years of LagosPhoto Festival and learn how to turn the street into a runway with Stephen Tayo.

Ibeji (brothers), Stephen Tayo, Homecoming, 2019

Ibeji (brothers), Stephen Tayo, Homecoming, 2019

Explore Black history beyond the continent

African culture has had a transformative impact on the world and keeps fuelling creativity in the diaspora. Join rapper Nas in paying homage to the long tradition of black musicians and storytellers who inspire us to this day. Learn more about Black history and culture in theUnited States, theUnited Kingdom or explore 50 years of black creativity through the exhibitionGet Up, Stand Up Now.

10:25

Celebrating history's Black musicians with Nas

Find out more on YouTube Music and with the Google Arts & Culture app on Android or iOS.

Job-training solutions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

As the pandemic accelerates changes in how and where we work, many of us will need to upgrade our skills or even change careers. Today we’re announcing more help, in partnership with expert organizations and with the public sector, building on our experience in training over 17 million people in Europe, the Middle East and Africa over the last six years through Grow with Google.

Even before COVID-19, research by Google and McKinsey showed that more than 90 million European workers may need to develop significant new skills within their current roles, while up to 21 million may have to leave occupations with declining labor needs like agriculture or in-person retail. The global crisis has sped up many of these predicted changes: McKinsey now estimates that 25% more people in Europe may need to transition to new jobs after the pandemic. Many people will need to learn new skills, as almost all growth in labor demand will continue to be for higher skill, higher wage jobs. 

Today, we are announcing three new Google Career Certificates available online on Coursera, which enable people to become job-ready for growing career areas such as IT Support, Project Management, UX Design and Data Analytics. These low-cost programs help people who want to learn online at their own pace, or who may want to change careers and don't have the time or means to access traditional education. They can be completed in under six months, do not require relevant experience or a degree, and are recognized by industry experts and employers. 

These certificates help meet surging demand by workers to get the skills they need to secure good jobs. At the start of the lockdowns, we saw atripling of demandfor online learning, and the interest has been mostly sustained throughout the year, as people need to find new jobs or learn new skills that employers are looking for today — and in the years ahead.

These certificates help meet surging demand by workers to get the skills they need to secure good jobs. In the last year, we've seen increased interest in online learning as more workers lose their jobs or as they seek the skills employers are looking for today — and in the years ahead.

Addressing the challenges of the future of work requires collaboration between governments, companies and community organizations. We are proud to support the European Commission’s Pact for Skills, and, as part of our commitment to help people overcome barriers to learning, we will provide scholarships for the certificates for 100,000 people in EMEA. Scholarships will be distributed through local organizations like Fundae and SEPE in Spain, APDC and IEFP in Portugal, the London Borough of Camden in the UK, OAED in Greece, Czechitas in Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Agency for Digital Development (ADD) in Morocco and RootHub in Nigeria. Additional local collaborations will be announced soon. 

We’re also focused on ways to address gender and economic inequalities, which have been further widened by the pandemic. Underrepresented groups, low-income workers and women are more exposed to hard-hit sectors, like food service or hospitality, and are therefore more at risk of losing their jobs. Older workers without computer experience also face unique challenges as they struggle more to get back into work. Google.org will allocate 50,000 of these scholarships for people from underserved communities, providing access to people from all backgrounds.

Google.org through an initial €5 million grant to INCO, a global nonprofit organisation, will work with over 50 local nonprofits to provide services like career advice, interview preparation, childcare vouchers and language support. These organisations include Riga Tech Girls, a woman-led nonprofit in Latvia that will distribute scholarships to underprivileged women to help get more women into tech jobs.

While there are people that cannot find a job because they don't have the right skills, 40% of employers in Europe also struggled to find qualified people. Joining policy efforts led by the European Commission and others to help bridge the skills gap between employers and workers, we’re committed to gathering companies and organizations who, like us, recognize the Google Career Certificates and openly express their interest in receiving applications from graduates. Certificate graduates can also apply for our apprenticeship programs

Technology must help everyone, no matter their location, race, age or education level. Governments and companies must rethink how we equip people with new skills by removing barriers to learning and investing in innovative partnerships — otherwise these inequalities will only grow.  We hope that with these new efforts and the support of our public sector partners, even more people can develop the skills to thrive and continue growing their careers through technology.

South Africa is an explorer’s paradise

Nelson Mandela once described South Africa as the most beautiful place on earth, with its breathtaking scenery, wildlife safaris, active adventures, vibrant culture and friendly people. I’m thrilled to announce that, starting today, you can explore what makes the country so spectacular through our new online exhibition -- South Africa: an explorer’s paradise. Through over 500 high-resolution photographs and videos, 20 expertly-curated stories and 55 Street Views, you can join a safari to meet lions and elephants, or feel the rhythm of the cities and visit ancient geological sites. Step inside the oldest caves in the world and zoom into vast savannas, lush forests and sparkling oceans. 

 

Here are four places to start:

A lioness in Kruger National Park

A lioness photographed on a night drive at the Kruger National Park, from the collection of South African Tourism

Aerial view of Hole in the Wall in the Eastern Cape, from the collection of South African Tourism

Aerial view of Hole in the Wall in the Eastern Cape, from the collection of South African Tourism

1. Meet the Big Five in the South African bush  

South Africa is famous for its awe-inspiring safaris, which allow visitors to experience the raw wonder of nature. Part of what makes the experience so special is the opportunity to see the Big Five: lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinos and elephants. Get to know these remarkable animals through exhibitions like Superstars of the South African Bush, or explore breathtaking views of the South African bushveld in Game Drives: A South African Experience.
White River Rafting

White River Rafting in Free State, South Africa, from the collection of South African Tourism

2. Explore the country’s hidden gems

Do you know the myth of Hole in the Wall, about a young woman who falls in love with a sea deity? Or that Table Mountain is home to species that can’t be found anywhere else on earth, like the Table Mountain Ghost Frog? Get to know some of our country’s best kept secrets.


the Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga

View of the Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga, from the collection of the South African Tourism Board

3. Take a virtual active adventure

If you’re the outdoorsy sort, South Africa has a lot to offer, from multi-day hikes and panoramic mountain views to rock climbing and rafting down roaring waters. Be sure to Head over to the Place of Great Noise where the raging waters of the Augrabies Falls  meet the Orange River, South Africa’s longest river.

4. Travel to 55 locations with Google Street View

Use Street View to explore South Africa’s most breathtakingly beautiful sites: Visit Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain; experience the rocky plains of the Cederberg, where you can view the five-meter-high Maltese Cross; or amble through the lush Big Forest Tree Walk, taking in the ancient foliage around you.

For us at South African Tourism, today marks the start of formalizing a relationship and partnership with Google that will play a crucial part in the sector’s recovery. We know that digitally-led is the norm and through our partnership we hope to equip the sector with the necessary skills to thrive and adapt in a digital environment.

Curious to see more? Check out g.co/sharesouthafrica or download the Google Arts & Culture app.

Fostering innovation in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa

As part of our continuous effort to support the news industry around the world, we are launching our second Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. It’s an open call for projects that increase reader engagement and explore new business models to build a stronger future for journalism.

Last year, we selected 21 projects from 13 countries: Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, UAE, Iraq, Turkey, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana. In South Africa, online news publisher Daily Maverick developed a “relevancy engine” for small and medium publishers to help them better understand reader insights and increase relevancy and increase subscriptions. In Jordan, podcast startup Sowt developed a new hosting platform for Arabic news podcasts. You can find out more about all of last year's recipients in this Keyword post.

Round 1 recipients Food for Mzansi showing their support

Round 1 recipients Food for Mzansi showing their support

Applications are open from now until April 12. Established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia and local industry associations are all eligible to apply. Projects will be evaluated against five criteria: impact on the news ecosystem, innovation, diversity, equity and inclusion; inspiration; and feasibility. The selected projects will be eligible to receive up to $150,000, not to exceed70%of the total project cost. We will not be funding any editorial-only projects, but instead are focusing on projects aimed at increasing reader engagement and exploring new business models. 

How to apply

Applications, in English only, must be made online via our website and are open until Monday, April 12 at 23:59 GMT. We will also be holding an online town hallon March 3 at 13.00 GMT with a live presentation and the opportunity to ask questions. (Please note that Google does not take any equity or IP in any projects or submissions.) 

We are looking forward to seeing new ideas, projects and big bets come out of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, a region rich with talent, potential and opportunity. For more information about the challenge, visit g.co/newsinnovation

Building a safer internet, from Europe to Africa

Whether searching for answers in Antwerp or Abidjan, people expect Google services to be designed with their safety in mind. And that’s especially true for the one third of the world’s internet-connected population who reside in the countries of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 


That’s why the region is also home to a steadily growing number of Google investments in digital safety, and teams who specialize in keeping the internet more secure.

A second global safety hub in Europe

In 2019, we opened the first Google Safety Engineering Center (GSEC) in Munich, acknowledging Europe’s role as a global hub of privacy and security engineering at Google. There, we’ve developed popular privacy tools like Privacy Checkup, a raft of security protections in our Chrome browser and techniques, such as differential privacy, which help add state-of-the-art anonymization into core Google products. 


Last month, we opened another GSEC, this time in Dublin, which will be a hub for Google experts tackling the spread of illegal and harmful content, and a place where we can share this work with policymakers, researchers and regulators. Like our work on privacy, content safety is a priority that we reinforce with concrete action, led by experts in the field.

Keeping people’s information safe

When people trust us with their personal information, it’s our responsibility to keep it safe. And we know people are worried about threats like hacking and COVID-19-related scams, and increasingly demanding that companies keep their private information private. Searches for “phishing” reached record levels in the UK, Italy and Spain last year, and in Germany, searches for “how secure is my password” doubled from 2019 to 2020.

It’s clear that in order for the open web to sustain its continued growth as the most important place for independent creation and commerce, its privacy and security practices must keep up with changing expectations. That’s why we recently joined outside experts from Euroconsumers, a group of five national consumer organizations representing more than 1.5 million people, in releasing a new joint report that spotlighted related concerns among internet users in Italy, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. As many as 69% of respondents told us they think the amount of personal data collected online makes it difficult for them to protect their privacy, with 21% feeling in control of what personal data is collected about them.

In initiatives like our partnership with Euroconsumers and our brick-and-mortar investments in GSEC, our goal is both understanding and follow-through: informing improvements that we actually build. Our teams at GSEC Munich have already rolled out new tools and a redesign of Chrome’s privacy and security settings, making it easier to manage cookies and the most sensitive website permissions. And, like many, we are encouraged by promising progress so far in the Privacy Sandbox, an open initiative introduced by Chrome to support a privacy-first future for web advertising — one that can promote growth in the web in Europe and beyond.

Helping people with knowledge and trainings

But safety and privacy tools also aren’t worth anything without supporting people in using them, which is why we back our safety engineering efforts with significant funding for local and grassroots programs to promote safety best practices. 

So, today we are announcing a new partnership with Injaz Al-Arab, a non-profit organization that aims to empower young people with digital skills, so that we can deliver safety trainings at scale to students across the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Morocco.

Helping innovative nonprofits and social enterprises with Google’s resources has long been the focus of Google.org, which last year used the occasion of Safer Internet Day to announce the $1,000,000 Africa Online Safety Fund. Today, we’re announcing the recipients: 26 groups across nine countries in Africa who have been selected to develop and scale new and existing projects combating online vulnerabilities, disinformation and extremism. 

We know these kinds of efforts can bear fruit. Take a look at some of the stories we’ve shared today of the 29 grant recipients of the Google.org Impact Challenge for Safety in Europe. We’re proud of these efforts and see it as core to our safety mission to support brilliant organizations in all regions of the world.  

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

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.
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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.
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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.