Google has announced the opening of its first product development center on the African continent, in Nairobi, to create “transformative” products and services for the African market and the rest of the world. This follows the announcement in October of last year of plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years in the tech behemoth. The center is Google’s second major R&D investment in Africa, following the establishment of an AI and research center in Ghana in 2019.
Google said it will hire over 100 tech talent over the next two years, including software engineers, researchers, and designers, to help solve difficult and technical challenges such as improving the smartphone experience for people in Africa or building more reliable internet infrastructure, according to Google VP for products Suzanne Frey.
Google joins a growing list of tech behemoths establishing innovation hubs in Nairobi. Visa announced the establishment of its first innovation center to co-create payment and commerce solutions with partners two weeks ago, shortly after Microsoft opened a research and development center in Nairobi.
“Africa has been at the forefront of innovation, and we believe that we will continue to develop and innovate right here on the continent,” said Charles Murito, Google’s policy lead for Sub-Saharan Africa, at the briefing.
Google stated that it intends to continue developing partnerships, products, and services to connect more people to the internet, as well as to support small and medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations.
“Today, there are 300 million people on the internet in the region [Africa].” “We also know that over this decade, another half a billion people will experience the internet for the first time, which is why it is incredibly important that we build products and experiences that are helpful to these people who will be experiencing the internet just in Africa,” said Nitin Gajria, managing director of Google in Africa.