Nelson Mattos, Google VP for Europe and Emerging Markets opened the second Google Africa outreach event, G-South Africa today 3 November 2011, by highlighting various online business opportunities in Africa.
“South Africa is amongst the most prosperous countries in Africa,” says Mattos.
Mattos highlighted some of South Africa’s vast opportunities including a $500 billion GDP, an impressive mobile phone penetration, low Internet usage (currently over 10% but growing) and young Internet users( about 70% between 24yrs and 44yrs).
South Africa like most other African countries has major Internet challenges.
“Internet access is still expensive and infrastructure is still poor. There’s a lack of high quality local content – for Google, the language diversity in SA is a challenge, it is important for us to be localising and translating in support of all the different languages for all the products that we have,” says Mattos.
Mattos indicated that SA currently has a low penetration of businesses online.
“From a business perspective, the Internet penetration from a user point of view is quite low. The awareness and understanding of Internet is very low in some regions,” says Mattos.
Mattos says Google’s mission for South Africa is to serve those already online including advertisers, businesses and users.
“The mission is to get others online by enabling an accessible, relevant and sustainable Internet eco-system,” says Mattos.
Building an Internet ecosystem
Google is focusing on 3 key elements – Access, Relevance and Sustainability.
“There are many opportunities available for businesses and developers,” he says.
Mattos says Google invests in infrastructure across the African continent using Google Caches, which is basically equipment that is put in the local network of a service provider or an operator to provide a better user experience.
Mattos says Google Global Cache (GGC) and POPs (Post Office Protocol) have been established across Africa to reduce users perceived latency,” says Mattos.
“There are also investments in local WiFi trials. Google has applications supporting programs and app deployment across SA, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Senegal,” says Mattos.
“We are really pleased to announce that today we have YouTube in two more South African official languages – isiZulu and Afrikaans,” says Mattos.
A vast majority of Africa’s population that browse the Internet feel they don’t belong there.
“Localising content leads to a major transformation on the user base,” concludes Mattos.
To follow the two-day event on twitter, search for #gsouthafrica