Google has announced that it will establish a new Google Cloud region in South Africa, its first ever on the African continent.
This latest development was announced at the second Google for Africa event. This comes on the back of the $1bn investment commitment that was made last year by the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai.
The new Cloud Region will help users to move more information and tools online, improve access options for customers.
Niral Patel, Director of Google Cloud Africa said: “We believe in growing an open and healthy ecosystem of technology solutions to support Africa’s digital transformation goals , which leads to more opportunities for businesses. It is part of our company-wide ethos to respect the environment, which is why we operate the cleanest cloud in the industry, supporting sustainable digital transformation,” he added. “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.”
Google Cloud is already working with customers across the continent to access the benefits of digital technology. In South Africa, Google Cloud works with leading retailerTakeAlot to help their customers enjoy a hassle free online shopping experience. TakeAlot built its e-commerce platform on Google Cloud, which has enabled the business to avoid system crashes during high traffic periods like Black Friday. In Kenya, Google Cloud works with Twiga Foods to help them connect 1,000 farmers to 140,000 vendors, delivering 12,000 orders every day and storing two million kilograms of fresh produce.
Earlier this year, Google announced plans to open its first African product development centre in Nairobi to develop and build better products for Africans and the world.
Google also announced the launch of voice typing support for nine more African languages in Gboard, the Google keyboard. They incllude isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Kinyarwanda, Northern Sotho, Swati, Sesotho, Tswana,Tshivenda and Xitsonga. 24 new languages are now supported on Google Translate, including Lingala, which is used by more than 45 million people across Central Africa.
To make Maps more useful, Google also refreshed Street View in Kenya, South Africa, Senegal and Nigeria with nearly three hundred thousand kilometres of imagery. This helps people virtually explore and navigate neighbourhoods on Google Maps. They are also extending the service to Rwanda, meaning that Street View is now available in 11 African countries.
To support African entrepreneurs in growing and developing their talent, Google supports African small businesses through the Hustle Academy. They also use Google Business Profiles to help job seekers learn the skills they need through Developer Scholarships and Career Certifications.
Google, through its $50 million Africa Investment Fund that targets equity investments in tech startups, has invested in three businesses over the past 9 months. They include 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.
Milestones achieved include the subsea cable, Equiano, now running through Togo, Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa. It is expected to deliver lower cost internet to the continent by connecting St. Helena, Togo, Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa with Europe.
Google is also supporting nonprofits to improve lives in Africa with a $40 million cash and in-kind commitment. Last year, 7,500 career scholarships were disbursed to help young people learn new skills and build their careers. Uganda’s AirQo received a $3 million grant to support the expansion of their work on monitoring air quality from Kampala to ten cities in five countries on the continent.
Recently Google partnered with the UN to launch the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI), a global partnership aiming to accelerate Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development.