11 years ago today, we opened our office in Nairobi - our first in Africa. Since then, we’ve been focused on our mission to make information accessible and useful to everyone and we’ve initiated programmes to connect people, equip young Kenyans with digital literacy skills, support local businesses to get the most out of the web, and to put Kenyan tourism on the global map. 

Today, we’re announcing more products and programs aimed at boosting the Kenyan economy.

Training 100,000 smallholder farmers in digital skills

We’re announcing today a $1 million Google.org initiative to provide digital skills training to more than 100,000 smallholder farmers in low-income and rural Kenya in the next year. We’ll be partnering with One Acre Fund, a non-profit organisation headquartered in Kakamega, Kenya and that has experience in providing training, products and services on credit to smallholder farmers.

The aim is to help these farmers make the most of the web for their agribusinesses, so that they can increase yields and productivity. The funds will allow them to digitise operations and tasks (training, payments, crop health etc).

Street View on Google Maps

Over the past decade, we’ve continually improved Google Maps to help you find the best places to go to, the best time to do it and how to get there efficiently.

Today, we’re launching Street View of 9,500 km of beautiful imagery of Kenya 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. 

Motorbike Mode on Google Maps

Every day we make decisions about where to go, how to get there, when to set out; and Google Maps can help with these choices. The motorbike, or ‘bodaboda’, has become a popular way to get around in Kenya with over a million Kenyans using motorbikes as their preferred mode of transport. Today, for the first time in Africa, we’re excited to announce a dedicated travel mode for motorcycles, which will provide directions and voice navigation. We hope that Motorbike Mode will help keep Kenyans on the move and we’ll be working to make the feature even more useful in the coming months.

Grow with Google Initiatives

Last year, we announced initiatives aimed at getting people in Africa the right skills and tools to make the digital world work for them, their businesses and their communities.

As of today, our digital skills program has trained more than 2.5 million Africans as we work to reach the 10 million promised. 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.

We’ve also trained more than 9,000 Africans developers who are on their way to becoming Google certified. And together with our partners Udacity and Andela, we’ve provided 15,000 two-month “single course” scholarships and 500 six-month nanodegree scholarships to aspiring and professional developers across Africa. Our developer training programs are all about enabling African developers for the jobs of the future, today. As such, we have seen many graduates from our program connected to jobs. Allan Juma, based in a rural community in Kenya, now has a job after participating in the Google Africa scholarship program.

Later this month, we will be announcing 10,000 developer scholarships with Pluralsight and Andela to continually support developers in Africa.

Launchpad Accelerator Africa

In March, we kicked off the first class of Launchpad Accelerator Africa, our program to provide over $3 million in equity-free support to African tech startups including mentorship, working space and access to technology. Four startups from Kenya 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.

Google Impact Challenge

The application process of the ongoing Google Impact Challenge in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa closed with over 5,500 entries. This is part of Google’s $20m Google.org commitment to Africa over the next five years and it’s the first time we are running a Google Impact Challenge in Africa.

Many African innovators are doing great work with real impact and we’re keen to shine a light on them, and give a financial boost to their projects and ideas. The process of selecting the 12 finalists has begun and the winners will be unveiled on November 28 in Lagos, Nairobi and South Africa.

We believe technology can help local and national organisations to better reach their goals and solve some of the continent’s most pressing challenges, and we are eager to back people who are using technology in new ways to make a positive difference in their communities.

YouTube Silver Buttons

Over the past year, we’ve seen an 80% increase in mobile usage of YouTube: more people spending more time watching YouTube videos. This growth is fueled by all of the incredible content that creators are uploading to YouTube. Globally, over 400 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every minute.

Today we awarded the Silver Play Button, an award for YouTube channels that surpass 100k subscribers, to five Kenyan YouTube creators:

  • KTN
  • The Real Househelps of Kawangware
  • Nyashinski 
  • Njugush
  • Africha Movies

This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication that these creators have shown in developing their channel to such a professional level. This vibrant creator community inspires us to build features that make watching videos easier and more engaging for viewers.

This is all part of our aim of helping Kenyans make the most of the Internet and grow the economy.

This article was originally posted on the Google Africa blog

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