August 18, 2015

If you still think Africa is too risky a place to do business, you haven’t talked to the management team at Google.

On Tuesday, the internet search engine giant announced that it is launching its Android One smartphone in six African countries, raising its strategy as competition heats up among major international internet companies foraying into Africa for a piece of the continent’s mobile population.

The phone, which will be sold at selected retailers in Nigeria and exclusively on e-commerce site,  Jumia for about $87 (N17,500), will be available later online in Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Morocco.

The mobile device, launched in partnership with hardware maker Infinix, is part of the company’s efforts to make Android smartphone affordable to the masses in emerging and developing countries.

At a time when China’s economic woes is dominating some news headlines, Africa’s economic turnaround and the internet explosion happening across the continent may be some of the best business news that most U.S. and European companies have heard lately, and savvy investors and businesses like Google are looking at Africa and are finding opportunities from Cairo to Cape Town.

“We’ve been thrilled and humbled by both the progress and the work that’s left to do. But we look forward to continuing our work with partners on Android One and in the Android ecosystem more broadly to ensure that users have great phones with the latest Android innovation,” wrote Caesar Sengupta, Vice President of Products Management at Google, on the company’s blog.

The management team at Google has good reasons to feel thrilled and confident about Africa. Like most internet and telecommunication companies including Facebook, Amazon, and French’s telecom Orange, venturing into Africa, Google sees a lot of opportunity and growth across the continent, and feels good about its prospects.

In June, the company launched its YouTube monetization in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, allowing video creators in the countries to earn money while broadcasting locally relevant content to the world.

The company also adapted its YouTube content to local taste and shows in the region,to provide the most relevant local videos, from local talents to professionally produced movies to lifestyle favorite shows, events, music videos and a wide range from Bongo movies.

Africa has posted some of the highest growth rates in the world over the past decade on the strength of its growing emerging middle class.

The Android One phone, called HOT2, runs the latest version of Android Lollipop 5.1, and will be automatically upgraded to the next version of Android when it’s released.

The phone features a fast quad-core MediaTek processor, dual SIM slots, font and rear-facing camera, a FM-radio tuner and 16GB internal memory for movies and music. The standard version, with 1GB memory, is available in black, white, blue and red and the premium version with 2GB memory is available in gold.

The company also added that to help get more people on the continent online to enjoy YouTube videos without worrying about slow connections, or the high-cost of internet, it will be releasing a new offline feature within the YouTube later this year.

The feature will make it possible for people to take video offline to watch later either with slow internet service or no internet connectivity. For videos where this feature is available, people can choose to add the video for offline viewing by tapping on the offline icon that sits under the video frame. Once taken offline, videos can be played back without an internet connection for up to 48 hours.

Last September, Google introduced the Android One program in India with subsequent launches in 10 other developing countries, including Turkey.

Google has helped developed fiber-optic in Africa.

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