Google Africa plans to involve special interest groups in product development as part of its strategy to enhance the digital experience among users in Africa.
Early this year, Google announced the establishment of its Product Development Centre in Nairobi which has since recruited 100 software engineers with plans to add more workforce in the future.
Google Head of Product Inclusion and Equity Annie Jean-Baptiste said this will ensure the participation of marginalized groups as research shows creating products for people with various disabilities helps improve overall user experience.
“We build our products with equity in mind from the start. Inclusion should not be an afterthought. We want to make sure that underrepresented voices are being heard throughout the product development process—this means providing input in the early stages of product ideation, prototyping, user research, UX design, and marketing—all the way to launch. By doing this, we can create products that perform better and are more relevant and useful globally,” said Jean-Baptiste.
According to Jean-Baptiste, hiring from diverse backgrounds across Africa will enable Google to build products that are helpful and useful to Africans and the world.
Local developers also stand to benefit by developing products tailor-made for Africans, from the ideas stage to when the products are introduced in the market.
“As a global company, we look at creating products that reflect our footprint. No longer will our products be made in America for the world but we are cascading that to our other offices to ensure our products reflect the needs on the ground,” she added.
Already the firm has involved local developers in improving products among them, Maps, YouTube, and Google Assistant.
“We look forward to improving our current products by continually raising the bar on products with a focus on respecting the user. To understand our users better, we are committed to building a workforce that is more representative of our users and a workplace that creates a sense of belonging for everyone,” said Jean-Baptiste.
Additionally, the tech giant is also working with internal and external product champions to test all new products before they are released for public consumption.
This comes as the government plans to lay an additional 100,000km of fibre optic cable across Kenya through investment in digital superhighway to expand employment in the creative sector.