The problem with Google’s claim of training one million Africans on Digital Skills

The problem with Google’s claim of training one million Africans on Digital Skills

Google lied and the evidence is everywhere – it did not train 1 million Africans. It is working under the illusion of its robots and AI on its definition of training.  The fact is this – no employer of labour, in Nigeria or anywhere in Africa, has experienced the impact of 1 million new-ready young Africans with digital skills in the last one year.

One million is huge – that is 1,000,000 people. Where are these trainees who have been prepared and unleashed into the African economy, by Google?

They are nowhere because Google has not done anything on that scale in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

The Claim

Google announced that it has reached the 1 million milestone in its Digital Skills program, via via newsletter.

Last April, we set out to help bridge the digital skills gap in Africa when we pledged to train 1 million young people in the region. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve met that target. One million Africans have now been trained and equipped with the skills they need to navigate and take advantage of the opportunities of the web.

But that’s not the best part of the story. Through these new digital experts, the continent is seeing an increase in the number of young people equipped with digital skills—a domino effect of sorts.

The drama continued:

In 2016, Segun Abodunrin hired his first two employees in Lagos. Just a year before Segun had never thought about opening his own business. But after taking our digital skills training program, he went on to start Tway Media, a digital consulting and training company credited to have trained 5,000 young Africans in 2016 alone.

Sure, the company trained 5,000 young Africans in 2016. This means that this happened within a year since Segun was also trained in a program that started in April 2016. He might have done that, actually, but in the real sense, there was no valuable training than mere watching prepared slides that offer nothing.

The Corporation Insults

These foreign companies like to insult we Africans as they take us for cheap. They come here and use words carelessly in ways they cannot do in their native countries. Let Google go to the state of Louisiana and show slides to 3000 youth, and then go out to claim it has trained 3000 people. The government will respond in kind, for deception.

But they come to Africa and do all kinds of nonsense and deceive everyone.

In Kano where I live, we understand training and we know the impacts. There is real training that changes lives. Google is providing PR training and not real training. Until they begin to do the real training, they do not have to associate their shows with the name of Africa.

Notice that this is not just Google, GE, Samsung and all of them are training in one city or the other in Africa, every month. But if you look carefully, they are doing marketing which promotes their businesses.

Those are not training, Those are market outreaches.

Market Outreaches and Training

When foreign companies train, they prepare you to use their products. There is nothing wrong with that except that the companies do not offer full disclosures on them. They create impressions they are preparing people for unbiased, un-tethered, and platform agnostic skills.

Google can train on how to make money via advertisements because they need people to bring adverts in their platforms.

Samsung may support people on making apps because they want good ones they can use to drive their Galaxy phone sales.

They all have the rights to these growth strategies. But they have to re-classy them as marketing, not training.

The is the brief of the Google training, from the newsletter

  1. We will provide offline versions of our online training materials to reach individuals and businesses in low access areas where we were unable to hold physical trainings. Our goal is to ensure that everyone, regardless of location and online status, is able to access these trainings.

  2. We will deliver our offline trainings in Swahili, IsiZulu and Hausa. We understand the role of local languages in communicating with rural communities of Africa and want to ensure that more non-English speaking Africans get an opportunity to take these trainings.

  3. Our offline training effort to reach students, job seekers and business owners will continue through face-to-face trainings managed by our partners.

  4. We will hold regular meet-ups to drive engagement around the value of the web at the community level with those trained, Policy makers and influencers within those communities.

  5. Finally, we’ll continue to focus on achieving gender balance by ensuring that at least 40 percent of the people trained are women.

It has all the nice structures but the detail is where the devil resides. You can get many free materials without the trouble of this online.

Follow Andela

Andela is a model of empowerment and training. They are technology blind, totally agnostic, and they make people better. That is what you call TRAINING. By the time you go through Andela program, you become a knowledge expect with deep domain skills and capabilities.

Andela training makes one a leader and jobs come. If you do not want to work for another person, you have all you need to create something new. You can innovate. That is training.

Google is light-years out of sync with the quality and scope of Andela. Andela training is what we want and that is the spectrum of the definition of empowerment. You get immersion and be prepared to attack the world of opportunities.

It is like attending our good universities where despite all the challenges, you are prepared to succeed.

Google with their cheap PR insults great firms like Andela who are genuinely working to improve African youth with real training and education. Google should stop the deception.

Googel is doing well for Africa

For all foreign companies in Africa, Google remains the most impactful in many ways. It continues to explore how to make its communities better. The fibre optic protect could transform African cities that get it. By making its products largely free, there are many possibilities for developers and users. Many people feed on these Google business model of allowing people to tap their products for free.

Google Inc. is scaling up investment in Africa by laying fiber optic cable, easing access to cheaper Android phones and training a workforce in digital skills as the U.S. technology giant seeks to expand on the continent.

“We laid about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of fiber in Uganda and we are busy doing about 1,000 kilometers in Ghana,’’ Google’s South Africa head Luke McKend said in a phone interview. “We want to make sure that we cover all the bases. We want to train people and make sure that they have the devices and are able to connect to the internet.’’

Let it continue to do that. But whenever it wants to claim this training thing, it has to calibrate its grammar. Here in Nigeria, we know what it means to have a challenging educational system. If you run the percentage distribution of Africa, Nigeria should have gotten at least 300,000 trained Google youth. It trained 1 million in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.  I will be proven wrong but I do not know if any person can claim that we have injection of 300,000 young people in our economy with top digital skills.

About 1 million people in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have been trained by Google over the past year, yet many had to complete their courses with limited internet access due to unreliable coverage and high data prices, McKend said. The Mountain View, California-based company is now turning its attention to web-focused skills training for small businesses across Africa.

If Andela graduates and sends 100,000 into Nigeria today, everyone will know. That is what we mean by impacts.

Sure, Google is also doing good on the Project Loon which uses solar-powered balloons to connect people in rural or remote places. We thank Google and hope it continues that. This is far better than the hosting idea.

(Few years ago, Google came up with the idea to put small businesses online. They have this website where you can get a page to advertise your business. For them that was the main way to help local companies go digital. Of course, people that work online understand the attraction of digital presence. You do not just become a page in the sea of thousands and expect to have any uniqueness. Using Gmail for business is not that great; you need a domain. That program did not work out well.)

Rounding Up

Simply, Google continues to do well. But on this training claim, make it clear that you are preparing people on how to use Google products and tools to make money. That is the disclosure you have failed to add. If you want to train young Africans, please work with Stanford, MIT and Andela to develop a program. Once you have that and you begin to deploy them, we can then start counting the PR as training.

Thank you.

(Image Credits: Google Blog)


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