Google CEO, Sundar Pichai was in Lagos days ago for the final lap of the Google for Nigeria event and as exciting as that piece of news is, many remain confused as to why Google is so involved in Nigeria and the African continent at large.
Google is dedicated to building platforms and products that are relevant and useful for billions and helping people to succeed in the digital economy by equipping them with digital skills and tools.
These are five practical and exciting ways Google is getting this done:
- Digital skills for Africa
In 2016, Google trained over one million young Africans on building their web presence, use Search to find jobs, get tips to enhance their CV, use social media, etc. The aim was to bridge the skills gap and this year is no different as Google is expanding that programme to train over 10 million young people for jobs in the next five years. There will also be a mobile developer training for over 100,000 Africans starting with Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
2. Launchpad Accelerator Africa
Google is bringing its global Launchpad Accelerator program to Africa and it’s kicking off precisely in Lagos with a new Google Launchpad space which is the first location of its type outside the US. The intensive 3-month program will provide over $3 million in equity-free funding, mentorship, working space and access to expert advisers to more than 60 African startups over the course of three years.
3. YouTube Go
All those concerns over YouTube and data exhaustion are about to be over as the new YouTube Go app improves the experience of watching videos on a slower network and gives control over the amount of data used streaming or saving videos. In June, Nigeria became the second country where Google started actively testing YouTube Go. Later this year, it will be expanding this to a beta launch of the app, available to all Nigerian users.
4. Lagos now on Street View on Google Maps
This has to be the most exciting feature added to the Google experience for Nigerians. Google has launched Lagos on Street View, with 10,000 kilometers of imagery, including the most important historic roads in the city. You can virtually drive along the Carter Bridge to the National Stadium or across the Eko Bridge, down to the Marina—all on your smartphone. This is apart from the thousands of new addresses and streets, outlines of more than a million buildings in commercial and residential areas, and more than 100,000 additional Nigerian small businesses on Google Maps.
5. Google.org grants
Google.org is the charitable arm of Google and it is giving $2.5 million in initial grants to the nonprofit arms of African startups Gidi Mobile and Siyavula to provide free access to learning for 400,000 low-income students in South Africa and Nigeria. The grantees will also develop new digital learning materials that will be free for anyone to use. In 2018, Google.org will be launching a Google.org Impact Challenge in Africa to award $5 million in grants to NGOs who have brilliant ideas on how to impact their community and beyond. Any eligible nonprofit in Africa can apply, and anyone will be able to help select the best ideas by voting online.
See photos from the Google for Nigeria event: