Google has celebrated 15 years of existence in Kenya with commitments to invest in a range of initiatives.

Google committed to support a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investments in startups to boost Kenya’s digital economy.

The company has pledged to support Kenya’s public and private sector players to adopt and use Google technologies, platforms and expertise. This follows an announcement made by Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai last year that Google will invest $1B in the next 5 years in various initiatives across Africa.

Among the numerous initiatives launched in Kenya include:

1. Provision of affordable smartphones through the Lipa Mdogo Mdogo campaign with Safaricom

2. Rollout of an Android Software Developer training course for students attending Technical and Vocational institutes (TVETs) that targets to equip 10,000 students with employable software engineering skills

3. Digitisation programme for the judiciary, and the health services sector.

Speaking during Google’s 15th anniversary celebrations, Ms Agnes Gathaiya, Country and Eastern Africa director says the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure Connectivity Support Project that is sponsored by Google PLC is working on digitising operations and linking 68 courtrooms, 11 public hospitals and 12 technical and vocational institutes (TIVETs) to the internet. This will make justice and medical care more accessible and affordable to Kenyans.

“During COVID, we learnt having digital skills is no longer a luxury. Our Grow with Google Programme equipped over 1 million Kenyans comprising entrepreneurs, software developers, small and medium businesses, women and students with digital skills enabling them to do business and learn online. We partnered with Safaricom to introduce a smartphone device financing plan, Lipa Mdogo Mdogo, where one deposits Sh500 and a daily deposit of Sh20 for acquisition of an android smartphone,” says the Country and Eastern Africa director.

President Ruto urged for closer partnerships between the government and Google saying it will help unlock more job opportunities for Kenyans and deepen availability of skilled ICT personnel in the country. “The Google Developer Training programme in TVETs is propelling our TVETs to the next level and transforming our ICT innovation space. This determination translates to yet another opportunity for us to collaborate with the tech community and aggregate ideas for the establishment of the university, development of its curriculum and its implementation. I propose that Google seriously considers the possibility of a partnership with county governments, TIVETs and universities to implement You-Tube Skills and Learning programmes” he said.

The Google Technical and Vocational Education and Training Developer Hub has been established at Kenya Technical Trainers College (KTTC). 300 TVET Tutors from 50 TVET institutions across the country will undertake training. The tutors will roll out software developer training courses in their respective institutions leading to an award of a globally recognised certificate in intermediate level skills in development of Android applications.

Google’s first Product Development Centre in Africa will be based in Nairobi and will champion creation of local products and services for people in Africa and around the world. Google has announced plans to hire software engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers who will work at the centre that will lay the foundation for more localised products and services.

Through the Africa Investment Fund (AIF), Google will invest $50M, in African startups that have a strategic overlap with Google in key verticals, including fintech, logistics, e-commerce, and local language content. Google will partner with investors who have regional presence and local knowledge. Successful startups will have access to Google’s experts, network and technologies to help them build impactful products for their communities and the world. Since its launch, AIF has invested in three startups, Lori Systems, a logistics e-platform, Safeboda, a transport logistics company (Uganda) and Carry1st, a South African publisher of social games and interactive content.

Google also recently announced the planned establishment of a dedicated Google Cloud Interconnect Hub to be linked to Google Cloud Region located in South Africa.