Google Beefs Up Kenyan Operations

We’ve taken note in recent months of the growth and innovative use of Web 2.0 in Kenya and how it has really taken root in light of severe adversity that still continues in the aftermath of the most recent Presidential election there. Apparently, we’re not the only ones taking note of the growth in tech usage in Kenya, as Google announced a search in Nairobi today for at least five senior executives for its African operations, according to All Africa.

The Nairobi office serves as the search company’s headquarters for all African operations, and the new senior managers to be brought into the Google-fold will join nine other senior level employees working presently in Africa. Google is also expanding into Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and Senegal.

While the vast majority of Africa remains unconnected (estimates place it at around 95%), this means that Google is serious about cementing its position as the number one search engine choice on the continent.

A Hedge Against Microhoo?

Within Kenya, there haven’t been many headline grabbing initiatives for Google. They’ve partnered with a number of educational institutions. They’ve agreed to be the primary email provider for Safaricom, as well as an upstream data provider for the ISP, bringing a greater level of access to a large number of Kenyans.

These moves are seen by analysts as an attempt to re-align their operation in response to the looming threat of a Microhoo alliance.

“Microsoft’s hostile bid for Yahoo! raises more troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction,” said Google Senior Vice President David Drummond. “It’s about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation.”

That might be a bit high-minded talk regarding the merger talks, but the fact remains that Google is in a far more globally diversified position than most of the other Internet giants in what is a recession-resistant market; measurable advertising. Placing an emphasis in Africa won’t provide immediate shelter from what possible economic downturns may be coming in the near-term, but it creates a long term success path to ownership of a market that only has room to grow.