When Google launched its free Digital Skills for Africa education program last year, it announced a rather ambitious target to measure its success.
Google’s Country Director for South Africa, Luke Mckend, said the search engine giant was aiming to train up a million people across the continent in digital skills, using both face to face teaching and Google’s online portal.
It turns out that aiming high paid off, because McKend announced today at a press conference at Google’s Johannesburg HQ, that the initiative has exceeded its target. According to figures released today, the program has trained 450 000 people in Nigeria, 400 000 people in Kenya, 70 000 South Africans and 80 000 in other regions on the continent.
“For every minute of every day we’re privileged enough to have a new user and new consumer of our content,” said McKend. “The scale of growth is astounding. By 2020 there will be will 500 million internet users across Africa. The internet has increased both a bigger reach and more opportunities for digital entrepreneurs.”
By all accounts, the initiative’s aim of bringing digital skills to people who desperately need them has been successful, but that does mean the people involved in it are going to take their hand off the throttle.
“Digital Skills for Africa aims to speed up this [education] process,” says McKend. “We want to train more people but also drill down into the skill set to enable them use this knowledge to open opportunities.”
One of the challenges the program has had in the last year is that it’s been difficult to get the word out. To that end, Google is looking for partners to help push out the message that a digital skill set is available for all – and for free.