Google on Wednesday announced its intent to establish a new Google Cloud region in South Africa – its first on the continent that would help create jobs and increase Africa’s presence online.
This was made known at the second Google for Africa hybrid event in Lagos, and the Google Cloud is one of the ways Google is delivering on the $1bn investment commitment made in 2021 by the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai.
Niral Patel, Director of Google Cloud Africa said that the new Cloud Region would help users, developers, businesses and educational institutions across Africa to move more information and tools online.
Patel said it would improve access options for customers and in turn, create jobs.
The Director, Google Cloud Africa said that Google believed in growing an open and healthy ecosystem of technology solutions to support Africa’s digital transformation goals
Patel said that the establishment of the cloud would lead to more opportunities for businesses in Africa.
According to Patel, it is part of the company-wide ethics to respect the environment, which is why it operates the cleanest cloud in the industry, supporting sustainable digital transformation.
‘’Along with the cloud region, we are expanding our network through the Equiano subsea cable and building Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi.
“In doing so, we are building full scale Cloud capability for Africa,’’ he said.
The director said that Google Cloud is already working with customers across the continent – helping them solve business critical challenges, get online, and access the benefits of digital technology.
According to him, while in Kenya, Google Cloud works with Twiga Foods – a technology driven company addressing and improving food security in Africa.
He said it would help them connect 1,000 farmers to 140,000 vendors, delivering 12,000 orders every day and storing two million kilograms of fresh produce.
Nitin Gajria, Managing Director, Google Africa said that Africa’s internet economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion by 2025 – 5.2 per cent of the continent’s GDP.
Gajria said to support African entrepreneurs in growing and developing their talent, Google continues to support African small businesses through the Hustle Academy and Google Business Profiles
He said that it helps job seekers learn the skills needed through Developer Scholarships and Career Certifications.
Gajria said that Google, through its $50m Africa Investment Fund that targets equity investments in tech startups, has since invested in three businesses over the past nine months.
He said that the investments were SafeBoda, a transportation app in Uganda and Nigeria, Carry1st, a South African mobile gaming startup and Lori Systems, an e- logistics company based in Kenya.
The Managing Director, Google Africa said that Google was collaborating with governments, policymakers, NGOs, telcos, business leaders, creators and media to help accelerate Africa’s digital transformation.
He said that it is the talent and drive of the individuals in the countries and communities of Africa that would power Africa’s economic growth.
Gajria said that the Milestones achieved include the subsea cable, Equiano, now running through Togo, Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa, with is efaster, lower cost internet to the continent.
He said that a recent economic impact assessment conducted by Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics found that by 2025, the cable is set to accelerate economic growth with GDPs of Nigeria rising by $10.1b, South Africa $7b and $260m in Namibia.
According to him, Equiano should indirectly create 1.6 million jobs in Nigeria, 180,000 in South Africa and 21,000 in Namibia, driven by the expansion of the digital economy and peripheral sectors.
Deputy Minister, Communications and Digital Technologies, South Africa, Mr Philly Mapulane, said that the National Development Plan 2030 calls for stimulating growth in the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector.
Also at the event, Google announced the opening if its first African product development centre in Nairobi to develop and build better products for Africans and the world.
Also, Sandy Ritchie, Speech Technologist, Google announced the launch of voice typing support for nine more African languages in Gboard.
Ritchie said that on the Google keyboard the nine languages were isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Kinyarwanda, Northern Sotho, Swati, Sesotho, Tswana,Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
He said that 24 new languages are now supported on Google Translate, including Lingala used by more than 45m people across Central Africa.
Williams Zacky, Software Development engineer, Google said that to make Maps more useful, Google also refreshed Street View in Kenya, South Africa, Senegal and Nigeria with nearly 300,000km of imagery.
Zacky said that this helps people virtually explore and navigate neighbourhoods on Google Maps.
He said that Google was also extending the service to Rwanda, meaning that Street View is now available in 11 African countries.