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Google to open development centre in Nairobi

Google has announced the establishment of a product development centre in Nairobi, the first in the continent.

The centre will build “transformative” products and services for the African market and the world.

It comes as the tech giant revealed plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years in October last year.

Google’s Vice President of the product, Ms Susan Frey, said at a Virtual Media Round Table that the firm would also be hiring visionary engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers to lay the foundation for significant growth in the coming years.

“Google’s mission in Africa is to make the Internet helpful to Africans and partner with African governments, policymakers, educators, entrepreneurs and businesses to shape the next wave of innovation in Africa. Today (Tuesday) I am excited to welcome all Africans passionate about improving the digital experience of African users by building better products to apply for the open roles at our first product development centre in Africa,” said Ms Frey.

The centre is looking for talented, creative people who can help solve difficult and important technical challenges, such as improving the smartphone experience for people in Africa or building a more reliable internet infrastructure.

Google joins the growing list of tech giants setting up innovations hub in Nairobi.

Two weeks ago and shortly after Microsoft launched a research and development center in Nairobi, Visa announced that it had set up its first innovation center to co-create payment and commerce solutions with partners.

“Africa has been at the forefront of innovation, and we believe that we are going to continue to develop and innovate right here from the continent,” said Google’s policy lead for Sub-Saharan Africa Charles Murito.

Last October at a Google for Africa event, the CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced a plan to invest $1billion over the next 5 years to support Africa’s digital transformation.

This investment focuses on enabling fast, affordable internet access for more Africans, building helpful products, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses and helping nonprofits to improve lives across Africa.

The new product development centre is a continuation of that commitment and will be working building for Africa and the world.

According to Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa, there are 300 million internet users in Africa who are young, mobile first and have similar patterns to mobile youth globally. By 2030, Africa will have 800 million internet users and a third of the world’s under-35 population.

“The potential for Africa to become a leading digital economy is right on the horizon and Google is committed to accelerating Africa’s digital transformation through human capital and enabling “African-led solutions to African and global problems” through better products,” he said.

Google said it plans to continue building partnerships, products and services to get more people connected to the internet, and support small and medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations.