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Google's Investment in Africa
In 2018, Google reached the milestone of having trained over two million people in Africa. This training is digital skills training which enables the trainees to pursue careers in technology. Google currently has many active projects that have been active in Africa since 2016, ranging from training to providing access to faster and more accessible internet. These projects aim to help propel more people into the workforce and market. This article will explain how Google’s investment in Africa benefits both the people of Africa and Google’s business model as a whole.

Google’s Initiatives in Africa

Google has focused on three main areas to achieve its objectives. The first area is the training of individuals in digital skills. This comes through Grow with Google which is a global initiative helping prepare people for the changing demands of the job market by providing education on the production of software and hardware materials. The second initiative is for Google to support innovators and startups through its launchpad accelerator program. This program gives startups the push they need in the form of investment and training to become a successful company. The third method is through GV, formerly Google Ventures, the venture capital arm of Google. It has provided businesses such as Andela, a tech company that helps to train people in Nigeria and Kenya for software development with valuable capital to gain access to markets.

Achievements

So far Google’s investment in Africa has achieved a great deal in improving the lives of the people there. Not only has it trained over two million people in digital skills, but it has helped the bright young minds create successful businesses. Beyond this, Google has provided artificial intelligence through a new AI research center in Ghana that helps farmers more easily identify disease in their crops, and AI to help bridge communication gaps on the continent. In Nigeria, Google has opened public wifi stations that give people free access to wifi. Google is helping improve the lives of Africans through education and practical applications of technology.

Why Africa?

Google has a good reason for trying to develop both technology providers and consumers in Africa. Africa is a massive market for technology and Google intends to tap into that. Both Nigeria and Ghana have developing tech industries and their cities show great potential for growth. Their populations are young and modernizing quickly meaning more potential customers for Google’s services. The more Google can help to develop the tech industry in Africa, the more people that will be using their products. In 2017 alone, Google saw a 13 percent increase in revenue from Africa, and this was only early on in its investing process. As time goes on, Google hopes to get more people online and continue to see huge return on its investment in Africa.

Why it Matters

An important conclusion to take from this information is why people outside of Africa should care about Google’s investment in Africa, and in particular, countries such as Ghana and Nigeria. The answer is that Google is taking important steps towards opening potential future markets that could be future trade partners with U.S. companies and contributors to the U.S. economy. Nigeria and Ghana currently have a massive potential to contribute to the international economic scene and Google is providing essential education and capital to help them get there.

– Josh Fritzjunker
Photo: Flickr

Andela
For many, working from home is the ultimate luxury, especially when living in a big city where bumper-to-bumper traffic stretches for miles.

This is always the case for New York City, which recently ranked fifth in Forbes’ “10 U.S. Cities With The Worst Gridlock.” But there is one company that’s paying the work-from-home luxury all the way to Nigeria.

Andela is the global talent accelerator that allows people in Africa to work locally and reach globally. They find the brightest people to provide training and mentorship needed to thrive as full-time, remote developers for companies across the world. Though the company also has offices in the U.S., what distinguishes it from others is its global outreach mission to provide people in Africa an opening to the digital economy and give companies access to untapped talent.

For example, Nigerians are getting paid to learn programming skills before putting them to work on projects that serve businesses back in the States. Chibuzor Obiora is one of those people who at first thought it was too good to be true when he discovered the opportunity on Twitter.

“I was always interested in learning [to code] because of the problem-solving aspect of it,” he told Wired Magazine, “and here was a firm that promised to pay you to learn.”

Even with the increase in competition to gain technical skills such as programming, companies around the world are still struggling to find software developers to meet the demand. Thus, Andela aims to bring out the pool of talent found in other countries that are not known to be tech-hubs like Silicon Valley. This not only includes Nigeria but other countries in Africa.

“We know that brilliance is relatively evenly distributed across the human population,” says Andela co-founder Jeremy Johnson. “In terms of pure aptitude, there are genius level people across the world. But what there’s not is equal opportunity.”

So how exactly do they choose “genius level people” across the world?

Using rigorous, online aptitude tests, Andela gauges reasoning and logic skills followed by a two-week-long screening process that interviews the top 10 percent to access their “soft skills,” such as interpersonal communication.

Those who pass this phase go on to a several-month training program, but not many make it this far due to highly selective nature of the program. Less than one percent of applicants are selected to become Andela developers, which is 10 times more selective than Harvard University, for example.

What comes next for those accepted is access to educational resources that are hard to come by in Nigeria. For example, one student, Tolulope Komolafe, had learned how to “code” from what the teacher wrote on a chalkboard and realized during her first two weeks of training at Andela that her university computer science courses did not involve actual programming.

Students are eligible to work as web developers for Andela’s clients once they finish at least 1,000 hours of training. However, that’s not to say that the learning stops there. According to Johnson, most students will spend about two-thirds of their time working for clients and the rest on education. Work averages around 60 hours a week for both students and staff.

“It’s very similar to the way that guilds worked in the middle ages,” Johnson tells Wired. “You get paid a small amount as an apprentice, then you work as a journeyman with lots of other craftspeople, and eventually become a master.”

Today, U.S. tech companies continue their struggle to find programming talent that meets the demands of selective hiring practices and qualifications. As result, companies like Andela are left with a window to provide a new wave of services that can work globally.

Chelsee Yee

Sources: Andela, Wired, Forbes
Photo: Wired Magazine