During a recent trip to Lagos, Nigeria, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced new plans to further its digital skills outreach in Africa for the coming years.
One such plan includes training up to 1o million Africans in digital skills over the next five years. The new initiative falls under Google’s Digital Skills Training initiative, which has so far trained one million people in Africa.
“One of the things we’ve been doing around the world including in Africa is what we call as Digital Skills Training. By that we mean taking people who are doing small things, small businesses maybe even a side hustle in a place like Nigeria– how do you leverage a digital platform to reach more people, to grow your business,” the CEO said in an interview during his visit.
Africa’s chapter, which is called Digital Skills for Africa, debuted in April 2016. The digital initiative offers online and face-to-face instruction to individuals and small business through 15 partners across 27 African countries, according to Tech Crunch. Those interested can register for free and set a personalized plan across three different categories, which include business development, career advancement or basic internet use.
In addition to training more Africans in digital skills, Alphabet–Google’s parent company–will also increase its funding to African start-ups, provide $20 million in grants to digital nonprofits, and offer modified versions of products (such as YouTube), Tech Crunch reported.
“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.”
When asked if training 10 million individuals in digital skills would be enough given the scale of challenges faced by the Nigerian economy, Pichai announced that as an extension of the digital training program in Africa, there will also be a program to train 100,000 Nigerians in software development as well.
“Another thing we’re doing is helping people learn how to write software. To truly solve things in Nigeria I think people here have to write things for the local economy.”
The Google CEO was not short of announcements during his visit. In addition, the tech company is also launching a Launchpad Accelerator program for Africa, which will offer $3 million in equity-free funding and mentorship to 60 African start-ups over the next three years. Launchpad Accelerator is a Google program that aims to help tech startups reach their true potential by offering them mentorship and equity-free support. The Launchpad for Africa will be in Lagos and will be the first of its kind in the country, Pichai said.
And it didn’t stop there. Pichai made other announcements, which included allocating millions of dollars in grants to nonprofits including nonprofit innovators.
At the end of his interview, Pichai said he’s very “optimistic” about the future.
Feature Image via Flickr/Neon Tommy