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Google’s Women Will initiative to provide digital skills and mentorship for Kenyan women

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Google announced the launch of its Women Will initiative in Kenya. The programme is designed to create economic opportunities for women by connecting them to digital skills and mentorship.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, underscores the importance of gender balance and parity for stronger businesses, economic opportunities and communities.

“From helping women across Kenya access digital skills and bringing together women entrepreneurs, Google is keen on developing and supporting programmes that help women build skills, get inspired and connect with each other,” said Farzana Khubchandani, country marketing manager, Google, Kenya.

According to an International Finance Corporation (IFC) report, approximately 32.2% of certified small and medium enterprises are owned by women, whereas 47.9% are owned by men. This gap indicates the importance of creating opportunities to steer growth for women in entrepreneurship, workplace growth, leadership and digital literacy.

Leading up to the launch of Women Will, Google held masterclasses across the country for small and medium business owners, job seekers and women living with disabilities. In these sessions, participants received personal skills development, business growth, digital skills, which are designed to position them for career growth and leadership.

Women Will programmes are also available in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan and Mexico and are rolled out in collaboration with a wide range of partners.

Google to open first AI research centre in Africa

We’ve seen people across Africa do amazing things with the internet and technology—for themselves, their communities and the world. Over the past 10 years in which Google has had offices in Africa, we’ve been excited to be a part of that transformation. Ultimately 10 million Africans will benefit from our digital skills training programme with 2 million people having already completed the course, and we’re supporting 100 000 developers and over 60 tech startups through our Launchpad Accelerator Africa. We’re also adapting our products to make it easy for people to discover the best of the internet, even on low-RAM smartphones or unstable network connections.

In recent years we’ve also witnessed an increasing interest in machine learning research across the continent. Events like Data Science Africa 2017 in Tanzania, the 2017 Deep Learning Indaba event in South Africa, and follow-on IndabaX events in 2018 in multiple countries have shown an exciting and continuing growth of the computer science research community in Africa.

On 14 June 2018, we announced a Google AI research centre in Africa, which will open later this year in Accra, Ghana. We’ll bring together top machine learning researchers and engineers in this new centre dedicated to AI research and its applications.

We’re committed to collaborating with local universities and research centres, as well as working with policy makers on the potential uses of AI in Africa. On a personal note, both of the authors have ties to Africa—Jeff spent part of his childhood in Uganda and Somalia, and Moustapha grew up in Senegal. As such, we’re excited to combine our research interests in AI and machine learning and our experience in Africa to push the boundaries of AI while solving challenges in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, and education.

AI has great potential to positively impact the world, and more so if the world is well represented in the development of new AI technologies. So it makes sense to us that the world should be well represented in the development of AI. Our new AI centre in Accra joins the list of other locations where we focus on AI, including Paris, Zurich, Tokyo, Beijing, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, Cambridge/Boston, Tel Aviv/Haifa, New York, and our Mountain View/San Francisco headquarters. If you’re a machine learning researcher interested in joining this new centre, you can apply as a Research Scientist or a Research Software Engineer. You can also view all our open opportunities on our site.

By Jeff Dean, senior fellow, Google AI, and Moustapha Cisse, staff research scientist and lead of Google AI Centre Accra

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