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Google for Kenya: Preserving our culture, and helping Kenyan businesses to grow

Today at our second Google for Kenya event, we announced more products and programs aimed at helping Kenyan businesses to grow and celebrating Kenya’s cultural heritage. Our theme remains “Twatembea pamoja”, walking together with Kenyans.

A video sizzle for Google for Kenya

Launching our online exhibition: “Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya”  Utamaduni wetu is Swahili for “our culture”. For over a year now Google Arts & Culture has been working with the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) to digitise Kenyan cultural treasures. With 28 museums, sites and monuments, NMK holds the world’s largest collection of Kenya’s cultural and natural heritage, which has never been digitised. The online exhibition - now online at - is Google Arts & Culture’s most ambitious project in Africa to date featuring treasures such as Swahili siwa side-horn and the Maasai shield. For the first time everybody in Kenya and around the world will be able to explore the past and present stories of Kenya’s communities through over 10,500 high resolution photographs, more than 100 expert-curated exhibits and over 60 Street Views of iconic sites and museums across Kenya.

A photo of Women dancing at the annual Turkana festival. From the collection of National Museums of Kenya

Women dancing at the annual Turkana festival. From the collection of National Museums of Kenya

User-generated Street View  Google has continued to invest in Kenya by adding more and more communities to Street View throughout the country, and we now have nearly 50,000 km of imagery showcasing Kenya's beautiful landscapes and locations on Street View. This has been the result of years of work done in collaboration with partners and local guides who help to keep Maps updated with important local information. Through these partnerships, we’ve now added nearly 36,000 businesses in Kenya to Google Maps for the first time. These businesses can now attract new customers from around the country, and even around the world. That’s economic empowerment for Kenya.

These efforts go past Kenya's borders to Zanzibar and Zimbabwe, where Local Guides are coming together to work with the universities, training locals in the skills they need to build and maintain world-class maps.

A video highlight of the Local Guides program in Kenya

Bolo and Gallery Go: learning made easy and a photo gallery that works offline  Bolo is a speech-based reading app that helps kids learn how to read in English. It encourages them to read out loud and then provides individual, customised feedback to help improve their reading capabilities. It’s already available in India and Nigeria, and today we’re bringing it to Kenya. Bolo uses Google’s existing speech recognition and text-to-speech technology that power the Google Assistant, to serve as a personalised reading tutor for kids, and works even when completely offline.
With the growth of Android, more Kenyans have phones that take pictures. But not everyone has access to reliable, high-speed internet or cloud backup to quickly find a photo.                                               

A photo of the Gallery Go app

Gallery Go

Gallery Go is designed for people who don’t have a reliable internet connection. It brings many of the best features of Google Photos on device, to help you find, edit and manage your photos even when you’re offline.

The app keeps your photos automatically organized and make your snaps look their best with easy editing tools such as one-tap auto-enhance. The app is only 10MB to keep your phone light and fast, so that you can spend more time capturing memories.
Gallery Go is available today on Google Play for devices running Android 8.1 (Oreo) or higher and will come pre-installed as the gallery app on the Itel S15 and select A55 devices, which are available in Kenya.

Grow with Google Initiatives 
Two years ago, we announced initiatives aimed at getting people in Africa the right skills and tools to make the digital world work for them, their businesses and their communities.

As of today, our digital skills program has trained more than 4 million Africans as we work to reach the 10 million promised. In Kenya, we have trained over 1 million Kenyans on various digital skills relevant to their career goals and business needs. Over 50% of Kenyans trained have seen impact on new jobs, career progression or business growth. This skills development initiative is aimed at unlocking the talent that exists on the continent, equipping our youth for the future of work, and providing them with critical thinking skills that can be applied to create scalable solutions to local problems.

We also aimed to train 60 startups over 3 years with our Launchpad Accelerator Africa program. Since launching last year, 35 startups have graduated, and they’ve created 385 jobs and raised over $19-million. 11 of these are Kenyan startups: Pezesha, Flexpay, Cloud9xp, PayGo Energy, Data Integrated Limited, Kwara, OkHi, Tambua Health Inc., Elewa, Tulaa and WorkPay.

YouTube Gold & Silver Buttons   Over the past year, we’ve seen an 80% increase in mobile usage of YouTube: more people spending more time watching YouTube videos. This growth is fueled by all of the incredible content that creators are uploading to YouTube. Globally, over 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
Today we awarded the Gold Play Button, an award for YouTube channels that surpass 1 Million subscribers, to The Churchill Show. The Churchill Show is the second YouTube channel in Kenya to receive the gold play button after Citizen TV.

Ten Kenyan YouTube content creators who have hit 100,000+ subscribers were awarded the Silver Play Button. They are Sharon Waniz, Alex Mathenge, Wabosha Maxine, Timeless Noel, MCA Tricky, Khaligraph Jones, King Kaka, Bahati, The WaJesus Family and Joanna Kinuthia.

These awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication that these creators have shown in developing their channel to such a professional level.

We hope that the products and updates we're announcing today will help Kenyans make the most of the Internet, grow the economy and preserve their rich culture and diversity. We remain committed to bringing the transformational power of technology to people everywhere.

Posted by Charles Murito, Country Director Google Kenya