Google commits to invest more during 15th anniversary celebrations in Kenya

Google says it will support Kenya’s public and private sector players to adopt and use Google technologies, platforms and expertise for better service delivery.

President WIlliam Ruto cuts the cake to mark the 15th anniversary of Google Kenya at Amani Gardens, Karura. Looking on is Ms Agnes Gathaiya, Country and Eastern Africa director, outgoing ICT CS Joe Mucheru(SECOND LEFT) and his successor Mr Eliud Owalo(FAR LEFT)

Digital economy gets a boost after Google announces that it will invest $50 million in startups that have a strategic overlap with Google in key verticals, including fintech, logistics, e-commerce and local language content, in Africa, a project fuelled by its Africa Investment Fund (AIF).

Google says it will support Kenya’s public and private sector players to adopt and use Google technologies, platforms and expertise for better service delivery.

Speaking during Google’s 15th-anniversary celebrations, Ms Agnes Gathaiya, Country and Eastern Africa director said through its connectivity project named, National Optic Fibre, 68 courtrooms, 11 public hospitals and 12 technical and vocational institutes (TIVETs) will have access to the internet making justice and medical care more accessible and affordable to Kenyans.

“During COVID, we learned having digital skills is no longer a luxury. Our Grow with Google Programme equipped over one 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,” said Ms Gathaiya.

The director added that they have rolled out 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.

Gracing the event, President William Ruto said the close partnership will create more job opportunities and advance the tech skills of Kenyan youths.

“The Google Developer Training program 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 the 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 programs” said the president.

In addition, the start-ups are set to partner with top investors who have a regional presence and local knowledge with the successful ones accessing Google’s experts, network and technologies that will aid them to create life-changing products for the community and the entire world.

Lori Systems, a logistics e-platform, Safeboda, a transport logistics company (Uganda) and Carry1st, a South African publisher of social games and interactive content are among the beneficiaries of AIF.

A Google Cloud Interconnect Hub to be linked to Google Cloud Region located in South Africa will also be set in Nairobi, expanding Nairobi’s tech hub presence.

” A dedicated interconnect hub provides local companies, learning institutions and public sector entities with a direct physical connection to Google’s network and data storage facilities enabling them to transfer large amounts of data between their networks securely and safely, which can be more cost-effective than purchasing additional bandwidth over the public internet,” added Ms Gathaiya.

The announcement made during the 15th anniversary of Google Kenya follow s an announcement made by Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai last year that Google will invest $1 B in the next five years in various initiatives across Africa to deliver value for users, businesses, developers and educational institutions, and public sector stakeholders.

“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,” said Ms Gathaiya adding that Google has plans to hire software engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers who will work at the center that will lay the foundation for more localized products and services.

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