Google is expanding its Africa initiatives, on the back of CEO Sundar Pichai’s recent trip to Nigeria.
While visiting Lagos, he announced the global internet services company’s plans to train 10 million Africans in digital skills over the next five years.
Alphabet will also increase its funding to African start-ups, provide $20 million in grants to digital non-profits, and offer modified versions of products (such as YouTube) in Africa ― where internet users can face costlier data plans and slower download speeds than other Google markets.
“A lot of what we’re doing is making it easier for the average person to take advantage of the web,” Bunmi Banjo, Google’s Growth Engine and Brand Lead for Sub-Saharan Africa, told TechCrunch.
“Our CEO wants people across the continent to know that Google’s here to stay,” she said of Pichai’s visit and announcements.
The company’s pledge to train 10 million falls under its Digital Skills for Africa initiative, which debuted in April 2016. The program offers online and face to face instruction to individuals and small businesses through 15 partners across 27 African countries. Anyone can register for free and set an individualized plan across three primary categories: business development, career advancement or basic internet use.
Speaking at a Google for Nigeria event in Lagos, Pichai underscored the benefits for African SMEs of going digital. “We’ve been taking people doing small businesses, [such as] a side hustle in Nigeria…to leverage digital platforms to reach more people and grow. For example, a small tailor in Nigeria can learn to put [their] shop on Google Maps so others can find them and more people come to shop,” he said.