Google has brought Google Station to the Cape Flats, an initiative that brings fast, free WiFi to the community. The rollout brings access to 125 locations such as Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Philippi; areas that are underserved with high unemployment and crime rates.
It has been live for the past two months via solar powered hotspots, in partnership with ThinkWiFi, and has no restrictions or data caps; it is available 24/7.
[blockquote pull=”” align=”left” attributed_to=”Janine Rebelo, Think WiFi CEO” attributed_to_url=”” border_color=””]Think WiFi are passionate about providing fast, free, reliable, uncapped WiFi in underserved communities- giving people access to more on-line 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 in the benefits industry 4.0 brings.[/blockquote]
At the press conference earlier today in Sandton, Google was asked about concerns around theft of its equipment and Asha Patel, marketing head at Google SA said there were no issues since going live two months ago, as they are working closely with the community where everyone benefits.
At its first Google for South Africa event, the company also announced a number of initiatives that I will touch on briefly. In addition to awarding $6m to 36 non-profit organisations across the continent through Google Impact Challenge and 12 being South African, it is investing a further $1m as part of a five year commitment to NPOs and social enterprises.
This will be in support of the economic empowerment of girls and women in SA. Patel says, “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.”
Google announced that South Africa has a 90% adoption rate of Android Go, the highest in the world, and that entry-level devices have dropped by over 50% since 2015. Subsequently, it announced that Google Go will support ‘read out aloud’ for all websites or news articles. Additionally, as of today (7 Nov), Google Assistant will be available on Google Go, which can be used for search, opening the Uber app, getting directions or sending text messages.
A new app that teaches children how to read, called Bolo, has been launched in South Africa. It is a speech based app that teaches kids how to read in English by encouraging them to read out aloud, and provides personalised feedback. Bolo, derived from the Hindu word meaning speak, is already available in India, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
Another app called Cameos, a selfie-video style app for celebrities or people of interest, will also be available locally for public figures to answer questions about themselves, directly within Google Search.
According to the search giant, more people are searching using their voice, and often they come to Google Assistant for everyday actions like setting timers or learning how to make the best roast chicken. “Starting today, users can ask the Google Assistant to order an Uber or read them South African specific news from their favourite local news outlets.”
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 15 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org