Google announces products and services aimed at boosting Kenyan economy

Google today announced a Sh100 million grant to train more than 100,000 Kenyan smallholder farmers in digital skills. The company also launched Street View and for the first time ever in Africa, Motorbike Mode on Google Maps. The announcements were made at the first Google for Kenya, where the company outlined its long-term strategy and commitment to contribute to the country’s economic and social growth.

To help farmers increase their yields and productivity, is partnering with One Acre Fund, a non-profit organization headquartered in Kakamega, to provide training as well as products and services to smallholder farmers aimed at digitising their agribusiness operations and tasks. Farmers in low-income and rural parts of the country will benefit from the grant and training taking effect over the next one year.

Charles Murito, Country Manager for Google Kenya said: “In Kenya, the agriculture sector employs over 40% of the total population, contributing to 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We want to see the power of technology elevate small scale farming. We hope that through this initiative, we will see a positive impact in food security, job creation and GDP growth in Kenya."

For smallholder farmers, technology is often the game changer that enables efficiency and increased productivity from agricultural output.

"At One Acre Fund, we’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with Google in the service of smallholder farmers in Kenya. With greater access to technology and training, farmers can make their land more productive. We’re excited to scale our digital innovations in rural areas and expand our life-improving services for thousands of hard-working farmers,” said Matthew Forti, Managing Director, One Acre Fund.

Motorbike Mode on Google Maps

Google has also announced a dedicated travel mode for motorcycles, which will provide directions and voice navigation. For over a million Kenyans, boda bodas are a convenient and affordable way to move and transport goods from one place to another. With Google Maps’ new Motorbike Mode, users across Kenya will now be able to get directions and turn-by-turn navigation, to suggest routes that are more efficient and provide an optimal travel experience.

Street View

Google is launching Street View with 9,500 km of beautiful imagery of Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyeri, and Malindi available on Google Maps and accessible to everyone around the world. With Street View, Kenyans and tourists alike will now get a more immersive experience as they navigate and explore cities and destinations around the country.

Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said: “Google Street View will bring Kenya to the world by enabling a global audience to virtually explore our cities, other urban centres and other places of interest and also bring the world to Kenya by whetting a user’s appetite to physically visit a place of interest that they have experienced virtually. By virtually or physically visiting Kenya’s leading tourist attractions, we will inspire people around the world to gain a deeper appreciation for Kenya, its people, the natural landscape, and the wildlife that inhabits it so that they they can visit and also support the preservation of this natural heritage.”

Street View is a great example of Google products which enhance the way that individuals and communities search for and interact with information that is most important to them.

 “We aim to build products that improve the lives of as many people as possible. By staying focused on the needs, behaviors and concerns of the people for whom we’re developing our products, we can more effectively build for everyone, “Jeff Albertson, Program Manager, Google Maps, Next Billion Users said.

Grow with Google Initiatives

The Digital Skills for Africa program builds on Google's existing commitment in Sub Saharan Africa to improve economic opportunities. Google commited to train one million African youth between April 2016 and March 2017. In July 2017, the program was extended to see 10m youth and 100k developers trained across the region by 2022.

As of today, the digital skills program has trained more than 2.5 million Africans and in Kenya, we have trained over 200,000 job seekers and over 400,000 businesses on various digital skills relevant to their career goals and business needs.

Since the first class of Launchpad Accelerator Africa was launched in March, four Kenyan startups have already benefited from the program:

● Pezesha - Class 1- a scalable Peer to Peer microlending marketplace that allows Kenyans to loan to other Kenyans, securely, via mobile money using big data and credit analytics.

● Flexpay - Class 1 - an automated and secured layaway e-commerce system

● Cloud9xp - Class 2: an online marketplace and booking service that allows people to buy and sell experiences in various locations across Africa and the Middle East.

● PayGo Energy -Class 2: PayGo’s smart meter and connected software service allows players in the LP gas (LPG) value chain to better service their customers, driving the adoption of clean cooking fuels.

The application process for the ongoing Google Impact Challenge closed with over 1,000 Kenyan entries. This is part of Google’s $20m commitment to Africa over the next five years and is the first time a Google Impact Challenge is running in Africa. The winning entries will be unveiled on November 28th.

YouTube Silver Play Button Awards

In recognition of outstanding YouTube content creators, Hon. Najib Balala presented the Silver Play Button Awards to Kenyan creators who have surpassed 100k subscribers. The Awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication that creators have shown in developing their channels to a professional level.

Below are the channels that were presented with the Silver Play Button Award:

●      KTN News Kenya

●      The Real Househelps of Kawangware

●      Nyashinski

●      Njugush

●      Africha Movies

According to Lisa Rousseau, YouTube’s EMEA Content Partnerships Manager, there has been an impressive growth of YouTube in Kenya, with a notable 80% increase in mobile usage, which means more people are spending time watching YouTube on their phones.

“As more people spend time on mobile, it indicates an increase in the time people spend watching YouTube videos. This growth is fueled by all of the incredible content that our partners are uploading to YouTube, which itself is growing rapidly.  Across the world, we are now seeing more than 400 hours of video uploaded every single minute, 1.8bn viewing hours a day and 1.9bn monthly logged in users. Kenyan creators are a fast growing part of this upload trend,” Rousseau said.

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