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Google shuns Nigeria, takes first Africa Development Centre to Kenya

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Foremost American technology company, Google, has snubbed Nigeria which is reputed to be Africa’s largest economy with a large tech presence, and have opted to establish its first Africa product development centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Announcing the decision on Tuesday at a Virtual Media Round Table, Google’s Vice President of the product, Susan Frey, said the multinational technology company would also be hiring massively for the centre.

Those to be recruited, according to Frey, would be ”visionary engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers to lay the foundation for significant growth in the coming years.”

“The talents to be hired would help to solve various challenges. The centre is looking for talented, creative people who would help solve difficult and important technical challenges, such as improving the smartphone experience for people in Africa,” she said, adding that such “talented people would also be building a more reliable internet infrastructure.

“This is fulfilment of a promise made by Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai, in October 2021, at a ‘Google for Africa’ event of plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years to support Africa’s digital transformation.

“The investment is expected to focus on enabling fast, affordable internet access for more Africans, building helpful products, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses and helping non-profits to improve lives across Africa.

“The new product development centre is a continuation of that commitment and will be working on building for Africa and the world.

“Google’s mission in Africa is to make the Internet helpful to Africans and partner with African governments, policy makers, educators, entrepreneurs and businesses to shape the next wave of innovation in Africa.

‘’Today I am excited to welcome all Africans passionate about improving the digital experience of African users by building better products to apply for the open roles at our first product development centre in Africa.’’

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American risk management solutions provider Archer opens business in Egypt

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American risk management solutions provider, Archer, has announced expanding its operations to Africa with Egypt as the first point of call.

While opening the Archer Integrated Risk Management (IRM) office in New Cairo, Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat, said the company couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate location for its business than the North African country.

The opening ceremony witnessed the presence of key dignitaries including Ahmed Elzaher, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Sarah Kahler, Senior Director of Business Operations at Archer IRM and a member of the company’s Executive Leadership Team, Matt Tinsley, Senior Director of Global Services at Archer IRM, Rasha El Kaliouby, Director and General Manager at Archer IRM in Egypt, alongside officials from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Archer in the United States (US), and various markets.

The Minister said the inauguration of the Archer IRM office at Cairo Festival City Business Park aligns with the company’s expansion strategy to bolster its presence in the Egyptian market.

Archer had last year, earmarked Cairo as the location for Archer’s first office in the Middle East.

The company said it aims to expand its operations from its Egyptian base into other countries in the continent and currently, the office boasts a team of over 140 talented employees specializing in engineering, research and development (R&D), technical support, sales, pre-sales, marketing, and customer services in more than nine languages, among other professional services.

In his remarks, the Egyptian ICT Minister emphasized that the efficiency and ability of Egyptian youth to harness technology contributed to making the ICT sector the fastest-growing state sector nationwide for five years in a row and an attractive destination for investments by ICT multinationals.

He underlined that Archer IRM office opening and planning to expand its operations in Egypt come as part of the efforts to develop Egypt’s capabilities in the outsourcing industry and attract multinationals to establish their outsourcing centers, run by Egyptian youth specializing in various ICT disciplines.

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How Nigerian online connection hub Workjeje helps with access to quality service providers

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A Nigerian online connection hub, Workjeje, has revealed how it is connecting individuals and corporate bodies to quality service providers in their vicinity, while catering to urban dwellers that prioritise quality and convenience in the services they seek.

The startup which was founded in 2021 by the trio of Fortune Nwankwo, Collins Onyebuchi and Ejike Anthony, who were students at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has evolved into one of the most sought after hub in major cities in the country.

According to Nwankwo, Workjeje, unlike other competitors in the Nigerian market, focuses on quantity of artisans with a strong focus on quality.

“It was really hard to get service providers, let alone reliable ones. They were so unserious, they’d tell you they would come in the afternoon and show up four days later, and worst of all might deliver mediocre services,” Nwankwo said in an interview.

“Collins called me one day into his house to share his proposed solution to me, so I called my friend Wisdom – who is a programmer – to build it, and that was how Workjeje started.

“We had customers asking if the artisans were pre-vetted, which of course is a pain point for them, especially for women who would love to feel safe when a stranger is in their home.

“We pre-vet our artisans by onboarding them ourselves, and still monitor their contracts and ratings to maintain optimum quality.

“Customer feedback has been really important to us. At the test phase, some customers believed our vetting process was not very thorough, and some artisans did not look the part.

“We listened, we churned a lot of unserious artisans, we made sure we vetted the artisans ourselves, and we prioritised service companies because they have more to lose,” he added.

Workjeje is currently operating in Abuja and Enugu as test markets, and is taking its growth plan seriously and slowly, he stated.

“We were funded twice by friends – first at the building stage and the second at the marketing phase.

“Getting 10 successful transactions was a major booster for us even though we were still in the testing phase. It showed us people actually were ready to pay for the convenience we provide. Right now we have processed over 70 transactions.”

Recently, Workjeje completed a new feature that its artisans had been asking for – an escrow service, primarily designed for delivery services to protect themselves against unpaid bills.

On how the platform makes money for survival, Nwankwo said:

“The startup collects between five and 10 per cent from its artisans as fees, depending on its agreement with them, Workjeje also plans to incorporate advertisements on its platform in the near future.

“We plan on expanding to major states and cities across Nigeria, and in time Africa to limit the macro influence on our business.”

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