Friday, June 24, 2011

Encouraging Online Freedom of Expression in Sub-Saharan Africa

Our mission as a company is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful - it is therefore in our interest for free exchange of information to flourish online. As access to online information continues to grow in Africa, and in the aftermath of the recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, we are beginning to see governments crack down on dissent in order to prevent free expression both online and offline. There is a growing need to raise awareness about the complex issues surrounding new technology and social media tools that are used for activism.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Umbono: Jump Starting the Internet Ecosystem in Africa

Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa! To preemptively answer your question, no, I'm not on vacation – I'm here to help set up a new program called Umbono, Google's new start-up incubator that will be located here. But before I delve too deeply, let me briefly explain what a start-up incubator is. While the concept of incubators is relatively common in the US, when I've told folks in South Africa what I'm doing here, I often get a look of confusion – "An incubator? Isn't that something you put eggs in?" Well, yes, you could say that...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mobile Money: African Panacea?

Alternatively titled "My Obligatory M-Pesa Post". Mobile banking/payments is the topic I get asked about most often by people who have just begun to scratch the surface of tech in Africa. "Oh, you work for Google in Africa... I just read about this fascinating mobile banking system in Kenya! Perhaps you've heard of it?" And while I do grow a little tired of fielding the same question again and again, it is the first question I get asked for good reason! The mobile banking phenomenon is an innovation indigenous to Africa, and a perfect illustration of African ingenuity.