Google waiting for operators to be “bold” in improving Internet access in Africa

Google continues to work on advancing technology to make the Internet more accessible, but the web giant told HumanIPO “everybody will win” once operators come up with an affordable price plan.

Patrick Walker, Senior Director for Content Partnerships, Europe, Middle East and Africa at Google/YouTube, said they were involved in helping run more cheap WiFi hotspots, with more than 400 set up in Nairobi and Mombasa alone. Yet to drastically improve access Walker wants mobile operators to think smarter.

He said: “If someone comes up with a price plan then they will get more customers, but somebody needs to be bold. From our (YouTube) perspective it is just making sure there is great content.”

Walker told HumanIPO he regularly checks the numbers of users on YouTube in Africa and highlighted the challenge by saying when he looked at the statistics on Wednesday only two people had visited the site in Chad.

When questioned on what type of content African users were viewing on YouTube, Walker said: “Some of the most popular videos are historical and documentaries. It is really fascinating what people are looking at. It is not just funny cats and dogs.”

He added he expected YouTube’s numbers to grow as they launch distinctive versions in more countries and languages. Walker also said the correlation between faster bandwidth and the number of uploaders is striking.

And on his favourite African YouTube video: “I really love the Azonto videos. It has become a huge trend and even the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has said he watches them. I love that sort of stuff.”

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