The Chief Executive Officer of Google, Mr. Sundar Pichal, who visited Nigeria for the first time yesterday, announced fresh plan of the technology company to invest as much as $3 million free equity seed funding for technology startups in Africa before the end of this quarter.
Pichal who spoke at the Google Nigeria Digital Citizenship summit held in Lagos thursday, said Nigeria would benefit immensely from the $3 million seed funding.
According to him, one million people have been trained in Africa on digital skills, with a projected plan to train 10 million Africans in the next five years on digital skills.
“Nigeria needs digital skills training for its youths and Google is focusing on digital skills training in the whole of Africa, to empower Africans to write software codes for their local economies.
“We have commenced the Google Launchpad Accelerator Space training in other regions of the world where we train technology startups on digital skills and we are starting the Google Launchpad Accelerator Space training in Lagos,” Pichal said.
Other announcements made by the Google boss for Nigeria, included increasing content in Google Map for Nigeria; introducing Google Local Guide that will share local knowledge among Nigerians; and Introduction of Google Street View that will allow Nigerians see at a glance, the view of certain locations of interest within Nigeria.
Pleased with what Google is doing to empower Africans with technology tools and solutions, the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, who was present at the Google Nigeria Digital Citizenship summit, said the federal government would collaborate with Google Nigeria to harness the benefits of technology for Nigerians.
This, he said, was important since the Nigerian economy is in dire need of diversification, adding that information and communications technology (ICT) is strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy and that virtually all sectors leverage ICT for optimal performance.
“To this end, I charge Google to key into the ministry’s mandate and collaborate with my ministry,” Shittu said.
“It is only logical that government is determined not only to create policies and incentives but also collaborate with global technology leaders like Google to ensure smart digital Nigeria initiative and to make technology more accessible and useful to drive more businesses and in turn, contribute to a richer and diversified economy,” he said.
The minister commended Google Nigeria for implementing ambitious reforms and will bring about macroeconomic stability in the context of the country’s ongoing Smart Digital Nigeria transition process. He stressed that the efforts are bearing tangible results and have laid the foundation for a credible path to fiscal sustainability and collaboration.
He added that Google, being one of the tech giants in computing and the web, has been at the centre of this digital penetration, with the popularity of its open platforms, powering lots of smartphones with android and other digital tools.
Google Nigeria Country Manager, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, said by 2034 Africa is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.1 billion, yet only 3 million to 4 million jobs are created annually.
“That means there is an urgent need to create opportunities for the millions of people on the continent who are creative, smart and driven to succeed. The internet and technology offer great opportunities for creating jobs, growing businesses and boosting economies. People therefore need the right skills, tools and products to navigate the digital world and to make it work for them, their businesses and their communities,” Ehimuan-Chiazor said.