Tech giant Google has announced the opening of its first Product Development Engineering Centre in Africa. The centre, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya, will help the company build “transformative” products and services for the African market and the world.
The launch of the facility in Kenya comes after Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s announcement last year that the company would invest $1billion in Africa over the next five years in projects that will provide fast, reliable, affordable internet across the continent. The Nairobi investment is the second major investment for Google in Africa having opened an AI research centre in Accra, Ghana last year to “help drive useful innovations”
Google also announced it is hiring new personnel to help it propel its future growth.
“To help realise Google’s mission, we will be hiring visionary engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers to lay the foundation for significant growth in the coming years.
“We’re looking for talented, creative, and collaborative people who can help solve difficult and important technical challenges, such as improving the smartphone experience for people in Africa or building products that will help everyone to thrive together,” Google said in a statement.
Major tech companies have ramped up investments in Africa to take advantage of its growing Internet users population. By 2030, Africa is projected to have 800 million internet users and one-third of the world’s under-35 population.
Last month, Google’s main competitor Microsoft opened offices in Nigeria and Kenya for its African Development Centre (ADC) to house product engineering, ecosystem development and innovation teams.
The facilities will also house the Microsoft Garage which is a new entity that was launched as part of ongoing efforts to scale innovation in the tech ecosystem.
Microsoft and Google’s recent investments in Africa are set to intensify competition for IT talent in the continent. According to Microsoft, its ADC facility in Kenya alone will host 450 software engineers.
Microsoft ADC Managing Director, Jack Ngare stated the company has embarked on a vigorous training initiative to plug the existing talent gap in the continent.
“We are going to partner with TVETs to train the next tech talent. We are also going to offer industry training to ensure that tech professionals are equipped with relevant job market skills,” he said during the launch of the ADC facility in Nairobi, Kenya last month.