Google is scaling up its digital skills training programmes to accommodate a million Africans in the next year, aiming to deal with high unemployment numbers on the continent.
The US tech giant plans to train 300 000 people in South Africa, it said in a statement on Tuesday, a country where 35 percent of 15-to-34-year-olds are unemployed. A further 400 000 Nigerians and 200 000 Kenyans will receive free digital training, while another 100 000 people will be selected from other sub-Saharan Africa countries.
“Google is in Africa for the long haul and we are making an investment in talent,” Google South Africa country head Luke Mckend said. “We hope that the people trained will become pioneers in the field and do great things in digital for companies and for Google.”
The company has partnered with Livity Africa to develop training programmes and is rolling out a new online education portal for learners in the region. “We’re also talking to a number of other potential partners across Africa with a view to scaling the digital skills training programme and helping to reach even more young people in more countries,” Google said in a statement.
African Internet bandwidth increased 41 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to a TeleGeography Global Internet Geography report. Research conducted by Google suggests Africa will have 500 million Internet users by 2020.
Large US tech companies such as Google (a unit of Alphabet), Apple, Amazon.com and Facebook have been under public scrutiny globally for the relatively low tax payments they make outside the US. Partly to shore up their credentials as good corporate citizens, the companies have often funded free education programmes and touted the number of jobs their businesses have helped create.
Google said in February that it had trained one million Europeans in digital skills and committed to training another million by the end of 2017. The company has also joined the European Commission’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, an effort to educate more Europeans for jobs in the information technology sector, along with companies such as Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Oracle, Samsung Electronics, SAP and Telefonica SA.
Facebook, in 2014, backed the UK’s Web for Everyone campaign, which sought to train Britons in Internet-related skills. Apple, meanwhile, has announced it is opening a training centre in Naples, Italy, to encourage Europeans to learn to code. The company has also highlighted the number of jobs it has created in Europe, both directly through its stores and data centres, and through the companies that create apps for its iOS ecosystem.
Amazon said in January that 10 000 new jobs in Europe were the result of its business in 2015 and that it would create “several thousand more” this year.