This is an introduction to a series of posts on what I think Google ought to be doing in Africa, that is to say what I think they ought to be doing outside of their core business of selling advertising. Why pick on Google? For a few reasons:
- I want to see cheaper, faster, more pervasive access to telecoms in Africa. This objective is good for Google for whom more access means more eyeballs for Google Ads. Google understand network effects better than anyone. If you haven’t already, read this fascinating interview with Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist. Thus Google is a technology company that can do good in Africa while serving their own ends. This is in contrast to mobile operators that are still hell-bent on propping up their ever declining Average Revenue per User (ARPU) on the continent.
- Over and above their corporate self-interest, Google is a company that has expressed an explicit interest doing something useful in Africa.
- Google is already doing some amazing, potentially transformative things…. they just aren’t doing them in Africa.
And that is mostly want I want to talk about is the fact that Google has some remarkable initiatives which could bring about real change in Africa but they are NOT in Africa and I want to publicly ask why. I’ve already asked why privately a few times but obviously I’ve been talking to the wrong people. I don’t particularly expect anyone from the Google to read this but I feel the need to speak out anyway. Here we go.