Google expands its African initiatives

Across Africa, one of the things that hold people back from taking advantage of the web is a lack of understanding on how to use digital tools. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is committing to training another 1 million students under its Digital Skills for Africa program in the next 12 months, the company said at events in Lagos, Nairobi, and Johannesburg.

Debuted in April 2016 with a goal of training 1 million within a year, Digital Skills for Africa offers online and face to face instruction to individuals and small businesses through 14 partners across 27 African countries. Anyone can register for free and set an individualized plan across three primary categories: business development, career advancement, or basic internet use. Users can choose from 89 courses across 23 topic areas and earn badges and certificates for successful completion.

To meet the goal of another million trained, Google will add countries and regions to Digital Skills for Africa in 2017. It will include more offline versions of online training materials for low net access areas. Google will also offer instruction in new languages, such as Swahili, IsiZulu, and Hausa.

Internet adoption in Africa is growing fast — to an expected 490M users by 2020 — but digital skills adoption has been slow. Youth unemployment rates are high across the region — 35% in South Africa, 17% in Kenya, 13% in Nigeria. This presents huge opportunities for African businesses and young digital entrepreneurs.

Developing digital entrepreneurship and creating new job opportunities for young people is critical to Africa’s transformative growth.

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