By Cue Sibiya
Google aims to give 10 million people in Africa online skills over the next five years in an effort to make them more employable.
The US technology giant also hopes to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, a company spokeswoman said.
Google said it would initially target South Africa for its mobile developer training.
Google’s pledge on Thursday marked an expansion of an initiative it launched in April 2016 to train young Africans in digital skills. It announced in March it had reached its initial target of training one million people.
The company is “committing to prepare another 10 million people for jobs of the future in the next five years”, said Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Google said it would offer a combination of in-person and online training. Google says on its blog that it carries out the training in languages including Swahili, Hausa and Zulu and tries to ensure that at least 40 percent of people trained are women. It did not say how much the programme cost.
Africa, with its rapid population growth, falling data costs and heavy adoption of mobile phones — having largely leapfrogged personal computer use — is tempting for tech companies. Executives such as Alibaba chairman Jack Ma have also recently toured parts of the continent.
But African countries may not offer as much opportunity as the likes of China and India for tech firms.
Yawning wealth gaps mean that much of the population in places like Nigeria has little disposable income, while mobile adoption tends to favour more basic phone models. Google also announced plans to provide more than $3-million (R39-million) in equity-free funding, mentorship and working space access to more than 60 African startups over three years.
In addition, YouTube will roll out a new app, YouTube Go, aimed at improving video streaming over slow networks, said Johanna Wright, vice-president of YouTube.
YouTube Go is being tested in Nigeria as and the trial version of the app will be offered globally later this year, she said.