Google offers 40,000 scholarships to African startups

Tech giant Google says it will give 40,000 scholarships to thriving African startups.

These startups will be spread across Mobile and Cloud development tracks.

Onajite Emerhor, Head of Google for Startups Accelerator Africa, announced this during the opening of applications for the 6th Class of the Google for Startups Accelerator programme, and the launch of new developer scholarships, said it was in partnership with Pluralsight and Andela.

The announcement was made during a virtual event hosted by Google for key industry players, policy leads, startup executives and investors driving the growth of Africa’s tech ecosystem.

The top 1,000 students at the end of the training would earn full scholarship to certify on Android or Cloud development.

“Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  the first virtual class of Google for Startups Accelerator Africa was launched. It was the first all-online iteration of Google’s accelerator programme for Africa, and saw 20 startups from seven countries undergo a 12-week virtual journey to redefine their offering while receiving mentoring and attending workshops. This year, with the 6th cohort, we want to continue to play our part by supporting developers and startups within the Africa tech ecosystem, ensuring they get all the access and support necessary to see them continue to grow,’’ 

Onajite Emerhor, Head of Google for Startups Accelerator Africa

Entrepreneurship drive

Nitin Gajria, Managing Director  of Google Sub-Saharan Africa, said the growth of entrepreneurship was crucial, especially in the African context.

Gajria said that African developers and startups played a critical role in the transformation of the African economy, creating new opportunities and paving the way for the economic and social development on the continent.

“We recognise Africa’s exceptional digital potential, and that is why Google is committed to providing this critical support for African startups. Google for Startups Accelerator Africa gives early-growth stage startups access to the best of Google – its people, networks, and advanced technologies. Community groups engage in activities like Study Jams: study groups facilitated by developers, for developers. Today there are over 120 active developer communities across 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.’’

Nitin Gajria, Managing Director  of Google Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa’s Importance

Because of favourable demographics, Africa is considered the best bet for techie venture capitalists to get a huge return on investment.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) says Africa’s Internet economy alone is worth $180 Billion.

A growing urban and mobile population brings tremendous potential to the economy.

Internet penetration is 40% today and a 10% increase in mobile Internet penetration can increase GDP per capita by 2.5% in Africa, compared with 2% globally. Increasing Internet penetration to 75% has the potential to create 44 million new jobs.

Tech talent in Africa is at a historical peak and continues to rise annually.

There are 690,000 professional developers across Africa with more than 50% concentrated in 5 key African countries: Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa.

While there are challenges confronting startups in the African ecosystem, there remains an abundance of opportunities and increased venture capital inflow to the continent.

Going forward

It is these factors that have pushed Google to focus its attention on Africa with its annual accelerator programmes.

For this year therefore, Google has opened its doors to applications from 17 countries across Africa, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.