Google is to supply computer software to students and government workers in Rwanda and Kenya, in a bid to put them on the technical footing of more developed countries, RNA has established.
Under new separate deals signed with the Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure and the Kenya Education Network (KENET), the internet search giant said yesterday it would provide free Google Apps software.
Rwandan government officials and students in both African countries will have access to free communications tools including email, shared calendars, instant messaging and word processing, the firm said in a statement.
Three Rwandan institutions – the National University of Rwanda, the Kigali Institute for Education and the Kigali Institute for Science and Technology – will initially have access to Google Apps Education Edition, while the country’s government ministries will be using Google Apps Standard Edition.
During this first phase, around 20,000 users in Rwanda will have access to these services. A broader countywide rollout will follow shortly afterwards.
The University of Nairobi’s 50,000 students will be the first to be offered Google Apps for Education in Kenya. These services will then be extended to 150,000 Kenyan students at universities across the country. The rollout will be jointly coordinated by Google and KENET which represents students and staff at 32 universities in Kenya.
Following the deal in California – USA, Rwandan Minister of State for Energy and Communications – Ing. Albert Butare said: “This partnership will be a boost in terms of services offered to our Rwandan Academic Institutions, allowing them to collaborate in their learning activities.”
“Furthermore, I believe communication between students and their lecturers will be enhanced as users throughout the country will now be using the same state-of-the- art, cutting edge technology that is available in other parts of the world.”
Google entered the business software market last year with a basic set of free programs delivered over the web. It then began offering last month a subscription service to companies who pay for extra features and technical support.
Because Google Apps is delivered via a web browser and has few of the maintenance headaches of traditional software, Google sees the opportunity to reach millions of new users in emerging markets and grab an early share of this new business, Reuters reported.
The Kenya and Rwanda deals are Google’s first in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Mr. Francoise Brougher, Google’s global director of business operations – in charge of its market development project in Sub-Saharan Africa told Reuters the confluence of greater mobile access and computer use is fuelling demand for web software.