#GoogleAfrica10: Search giant celebrates a decade of Africa-centric services

2017-11-03 21:10 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Technology connects and changes lives for the better - and if anybody knows this, it's the passionate Googlers who have been doing so for the last decade across Africa. 

On Thursday, 3 November Google celebrated its 10-year anniversary of making special connections.

Google SA country director Luke Mckend, Bunmi Banjohead of digital skills and brand for Google Africa, Fortune Sibanda, public policy and government relationships manager as well as Mich Atagana, Google SA public affairs and communications head were just some of them in attendance.

Andre Van Kets, co-founder of Discover Africa group, the first, third-party partner in South Africa via the Street View Camera Loan Program, also officially announced the addition of 170 new trails in South Africa’s national parks and reserves to Googles Mzansi Experience Google mapping project initially launched in March 2016.

SEE: Take a walk in all of SA's nature parks with Google Street View

It showcases more than just the prominent tourist attractions such as Kruger National Park, Table Mountain and Cape Point - adding a stunning legacy to changing lives in Africa.

Add to this, other initiatives across the African content were showcased on the night. These included Web Rangers, a 9-month youth programme geared to ensure our youth can use technology in a safe, secure way.

Google is also entrenched in evolving Africa-centric products and services. The search engine knows that when it comes to searching, faster is always better. Google estimates that in Africa 40% of people with Android devices may be experiencing a slow or delayed connection while they’re on the web due to usage of low RAM devices.

They have since introduced optimised results pages that allow users to get information quicker, easier and more affordably. "Now for most of Africa, when you search on Google with a low RAM device via the Google App, Chrome or Android browser, web pages that you access from Google’s search results page will be optimised to load faster and use less data." It estimates that this functions reduces data usage by up to 80%.

Google says it is also constantly trying to evolve, making sure it suits the needs of its users. Having recently launched YouTube Offering it allows users to download videos over wifi and re-watch them offline later.

YouTube Go is also in beta testing, but currently not available in SA - also aimed at optimised mobile data-usage - Google says it will also make it much easier to discover localised content specific the region you're in. 

But it's artificial intelligence and machine learning that is leading the way - with the internet of things representing the future for the search engine. Soon there will come a time when we won't remember not being able to talk to our appliances and plan our life with a simple voice command, suggests Mckend. While revolutionary products such as Nest are shaping the way we live our daily lives, it has yet to be launched in SA. 

Nonetheless, we're excited to see these take off across the content. Okay Google, on to the next 10 then.

Take a look at some of the highlights of the evening shared by Mckend here: