Google has celebrated 15 years of existence in Kenya with commitments to support and invest in a range of initiatives that will boost Kenya’s digital economy among investment startups.
The company has pledged to support Kenya’s public and private sector players to adopt and use Google technologies, platforms and expertise. This follows an announcement made by Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai last year that Google will invest $1B in the next 5 years in various initiatives across Africa.
Among the numerous initiatives launched in Kenya include:
1. Provision of affordable smartphones through the Lipa Mdogo Mdogo campaign with Safaricom
2. Rollout of an Android Software Developer training course for students attending Technical and Vocational institutes (TVETs) that targets to equip 10,000 students with employable software engineering skills
3. Digitisation programme for the judiciary, and the health services sector.
Speaking during Google’s 15th-anniversary celebrations, Ms Agnes Gathaiya, Country and Eastern Africa director said that the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure Connectivity Support Project which is sponsored by Google PLC is working on digitising operations and linking 68 courtrooms, 11 public hospitals and 12 technical and vocational institutes (TIVETs) with the internet. This will make justice and medical care more accessible and affordable to Kenyans.
“During COVID, we learnt having digital skills is no longer a luxury. Our Grow with Google Programme equipped over 1 million Kenyans comprising entrepreneurs, software developers, small and medium businesses, women and students with digital skills enabling them to do business and learn online. We partnered with Safaricom to introduce a smartphone device financing plan, Lipa Mdogo Mdogo, where one deposits Sh500 and a daily deposit of Sh20 for the acquisition of an android smartphone,” added Ms Agnes Gathaiya the Country and Eastern Africa director.
President William Ruto called upon closer partnerships between the government and Google to help unlock more job opportunities for Kenyans and deepen the availability of skilled ICT personnel in the country.
“The Google Developer Training programme in TVETs is propelling our TVETs to the next level and transforming our ICT innovation space. This determination translates to yet another opportunity for us to collaborate with the tech community and aggregate ideas for the establishment of a university, the development of its curriculum and its implementation. I propose that Google seriously considers the possibility of a partnership with county governments, TIVETs and universities to implement YouTube Skills and Learning programmes” added the President.
The Google Technical and Vocational Education and Training Developer Hub has been established at Kenya Technical Trainers College (KTTC). The hub will accommodate 300 TVET Tutors from 50 TVET institutions across the country who will undertake training.
The tutors will undergo software developer training courses in their respective institutions leading to an award of a globally recognised certificate in intermediate-level skills in the development of Android applications.
Google’s first Product Development Centre in Africa will be based in Nairobi and will champion the creation of local products and services for people in Africa and around the world.
Google has also announced plans to hire software engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers who will work at the centre to lay the foundation for more localised products and services.
Through the Africa Investment Fund (AIF), Google will invest $50M, in African startups that have a strategic overlap with Google in key verticals, including fintech, logistics, e-commerce, and local language content.
The company is also seeking to partner with investors who have a regional presence and local knowledge. Successful startups will have access to Google’s experts, network and technologies to help them build impactful products for their communities and the world. Since its launch, AIF has invested in three startups, Lori Systems, a logistics e-platform, Safeboda, a transport logistics company (Uganda) and Carry1st, a South African publisher of social games and interactive content.
Google also recently announced the planned establishment of a dedicated Google Cloud Interconnect Hub to be linked to the Google Cloud Region located in South Africa.