Google South Africa held it’s first ‘Google for South Africa’ event in Joburg today, (Thursday 7 November) and announced some exciting things.
The first big announcement was that Google Station will be rolled out in the Western Cape’s Cape Flats communities. Google Station will essentially provide fast, free and open Wi-Fi to the area. This is in collaboration with internet service provider Think Wifi.
“By gaining access to information via the internet, we hope that people in these communities will get a more equal opportunity to learn and develop and live more empowered lives,” says Nitin Gajria, Director of Google Africa.
Asha Patel, Head of Marketing, South Africa said to IOL, ‘One of the key focus areas of our programmes has been the empowerment of women and minority groups, and I’m happy to say that 48% of the people we have trained in South Africa are women.’
According to Lowvelder, Google Station is now available in over 100 locations, including areas within Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, Philippi and more. These areas experience high levels of crime and low levels of unemployment.
“Think WiFi are passionate about providing fast, free, reliable, uncapped Wi-Fi in underserved communities – giving people access to more online resources and more opportunities. Through our partnership, Think WiFi and Google will provide unlimited Wi-Fi access to communities in townships, public areas, universities, transportation hubs, and shopping malls, laying the foundations for broad-based, inclusive participation,” says Janine Rebelo, Think WiFi CEO.
Google also announced updates to Google Go, a fast and easy way to search the internet. Google Go works on cellphones with low RAM and on network connections that are volatile. Google Go has a read out loud feature to hear a website or news story. Users will simply just have to tap the play icon when opening a search result.
Users will also be able to use Google Assistant directly from Google Go as of today.
Bolo, a speech-based reading app helps teach children English. Children will read out loud with the app running, which will in turn give customised feedback, helping to enhance the reading proficiency of the child. The app is available already in India, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. Today it will be available in South Africa.
Google Assistant will also be able to order users an Uber, or to read to them specific South African news from local outlets.