Google hails expansion of digital technology footprint in Africa

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American technology giant, Google, has expressed satisfaction at the pace of digital expansion in Africa since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Google’s Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai, said on Wednesday the global technology enterprise would continue to invest in efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic globally.

Mr Pichai said the expansion of Africa’s digital footprint during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had accelerated digital growth in Africa.

Speaking during a virtual Summit with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Pichai said Google will continue partnering with African Governments in the delivery of technology solutions.

President Kenyatta and Pichai held talks on the sidelines of a public discussion on digital transformation in Africa, convened by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).

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CCA is a Washington DC-based trade association focusing on strengthening trade and commercial ties between the United States of America and African economies.

Google pledged to provide US$10 million package to support Kenya’s post COVID-19 recovery efforts.

In addition to the US$10 million, which includes US$3 million to support small businesses, US$5 million for Kenyan start ups and US$2 million for charity, Mr Pichai announced several other investments lined up by his organization for Kenya. Mr Pichai said his company will expand its Google for Startups Accelerator program this year by supporting 100,000 businesses and 15,000 developers in Kenya.

In the education sector, the American technology giant will train 29,000 students and 1,800 teachers on remote learning using its Google Classroom platform.

President Kenyatta welcomed the post-COVID-19 recovery support from Google and thanked the company for working closely with the Kenyan Government in driving digital transformation across the country in the 13 years of its operations in Kenya.

“We started our journey some almost two decades ago to try and start moving into the digital world, Kenyatta said. Google has been a good part of that journey. A journey that has enabled many Kenyans through the use of technology and digitization to access financial services, knowledge and to enhance their business capacities,” President Kenyatta said.

He said Kenya’s digital transformation supported by partners such as Google over the years has seen the country rise to become “one of the start up capitals of the African continent.”

Earlier, during talks on digital enterpreneurship moderated by journalist Zain Verjee, President Kenyatta said Kenya is aggressively expanding internet connectivity across the country and investing in skills development to enable young Kenyans to benefit from employment opportunities created by the digital revolution.

The President said his administration is rolling out the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) to give Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects the prominence needed to move Kenya from a nation reliant on agriculture to an economy powered by technology.

Moving forward, President Kenyatta said Kenya’s priority is translating the expanding internet connectivity in the country into tangible economic benefits for her people.

He said the country will achieve this ambition by linking the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the high potential and expansive global markets.

“True growth in Kenya is going to be led by SMEs and we need to be able to tool them. One area I would like us to work a lot more together is in the area of supporting our SMEs,” the President said.

He said Kenya is keen on expanding market opportunities for Kenyan businesses through the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the United States of America and other multilateral platforms such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). (PANA/NAN)

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