INTERNET giant Google has launched its first developers space in Lagos previously referred to as the Google Launchpad Space as part of a drive to boost online penetration and boost its share of the Nigerian online market.
Nigeria is estimated to have 123.4m Internet users, representing 61.4% of the population, making her the undisputed African giant, more than double the size of Egypt, its closest rival who has just 49m users. Ina bid to deepen this penetration, Google has launched the Google Developers Space to provide that home and space where entrepreneurs, developers and investors can connect and collaborate with each other.
Google Developers Space is a hub for African developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups. Juliet Ehimuan, the country director of Google Nigeria, said that the space was the next step to Google support for developers across the continent.
Ms Ehimuan said that from Google’s commitment to training 100,000 developers across Africa over 50% had been met. She added that the commitment had prompted the launch of developer merchant support in the Google Play store making it possible for developers to earn money through apps they build.
“We are excited to continue our journey with the African start-up and developer communities. Through Google Developer Groups and Women Techmakers, Google provides training aligned with real-life job competency requirements.
“There are 173 active Google Developer Groups (GDGs) in Africa, providing an opportunity for developers to meet other developers with similar interests at GDG meetup events,’’ she said.
According to Ms Ehimuan, these include talks on a wide range of technical topics and hands-on workshops. GDGs also host DevFests – community-led developer events focused on community building and learning about Google’s technologies. She said that in 2019, more than 100 DevFest events were held across Africa and Launchpad Accelerator Africa had worked with 47 start-ups since the first class began in early 2018.
Ms Ehimuan added that the companies had raised millions of dollars in investments and created over 900 jobs across the continent. Launchpad Africa has accelerated start-ups from 17 African countries so far including Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The next class will start at the Google Developer Space in May 2020. Accelerator Africa head of operations, Onajite Emerhor, said at the launch that Google was
strengthening its commitment to supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa by opening the Google Developers Space.
Ms Emerhor added that Google had partnered Impact Hub to bring the space to life and worked with a local company called Spacefinish, which designed it specifically to create an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation. According to her, Google was looking forward to working with start-ups and other players in the ecosystem from across the continent at the Space.
She said Google would not charge for use of the space, which, in addition to housing Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa, will support developer meet-ups, training, experts office hours. Google will also not charge for women in tech events, start-up programmes outside of Launchpad, partner events that support the wider entrepreneur and developer ecosystem Google initiatives for empowering people through digital skills training.
In July 2017, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai, made a commitment to African entrepreneurs to start the Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme and launch a space to house the efforts in Nigeria. Given the potential of her Internet market, Nigeria has succeeded in attracting operatives in the information technology market, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who visited last year.