Google Says It Kept Its Promise, Trained 1 Million Africans In Digital Skills

Written by Dana Sanchez

In April 2016, Silicon Valley tech giant Google announced plans at a press conference in Johannesburg to train 1 million young Africans in digital skills within a year.

Google — valued at $109.5 billion in 2016 (according to Brand Finance, Fortune reported) — has reached its  target early.

Now Google is promising to train even more Africans in digital skills in the coming year.

Google rolled out two training programs in 2016 through its partner, Livity Africa: Digify Bytes provided digital skills to young people looking to develop a digital career; and Digify Pro was a three-month immersion program for digital specialists, IT News Africa reported in April, 2016.

The programs launched initially in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, and Google said it would reach more people in the next 12 months. A group of 65 volunteer Googlers from around the world trained the trainers, delivered the training sessions on occasion, and helped the Livity team develop content.

Google also launched – an online learning portal with a range of digital skills courses available free to anyone in Africa. The courses were designed to use up as little data as possible, according to IT News Africa. Google said its goal was to have 50 courses available by July 2016.

Many people who took Google training course had to do so with limited internet access due to unreliable coverage and high data prices, said Luke McKend, head of Google South Africa, in a Bloomberg phone interview.

The California-based company is now turning its attention to web-focused skills training for small businesses across Africa.

In addition to skills and workforce training, the U.S. technology giant is also laying fiber optic cable, easing access to Android phones as it expands on the continent, Bloomberg reported.

“We laid about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of fiber in Uganda and we are busy doing about 1,000 kilometers in Ghana,’’ McKend said. “We want to make sure that we cover all the bases. We want to train people and make sure that they have the devices and are able to connect to the internet.’’

Google’s digital skills program offers 89 courses through it online portal, and works with 14 training partners covering more than 20 countries to offer face-to-face training, This Day Live reported.

Looking ahead, the program will address needs for small business owners who want to understand how to take advantage of the web across Africa. Google plans to add web-focused skills training for SMEs across Africa.

“A digitally skilled Africa is good for everyone – for our economy, for entrepreneurs and individuals. And yes, good for internet companies like Google,” said Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, Google Nigeria country manager.

If young people have the right skills, they will build businesses, create jobs and boost economic growth across the continent, said Bunmi Banjo, head of growth engine and brand lead for Google sub-Saharan Africa.

“As we expand this initiative to reach more local areas across the continent, we hope to see more impact in everyday lives of Africans,” Banjo said.

Google’s services and products include online advertising technologies, search, cloud computing, software, and hardware.