We’re getting information that Google’s Sub Saharan Africa Product Manager, Divon Lan, will be in the country today. He’s coming in to meet with Internet service providers, telecom operators and the University of Zimbabwe. We hear he’s driving in from Malawi and will be around till Sunday, 16 May.
As Google is primarily a search and internet advertising company, the purpose of the visit is probably to assess the country’s ICT service industry and business opportunities for localized Google web services and products.
Lan has expressed Google’s interest in working with the University’s African Languages Research Institute in the translation of Google services on the Internet to local languages.
Google has been active in some African countries, especially Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Kenya. In Uganda for example, Google launched an SMS and Web based marketplace last year. The services allows users to buy and sell goods and services using SMS or a Google Trader web page. More recently, Google launch Gmail SMS in Ghana.
Through programs like the G-Africa initiative, Google has also held a series of events in Sub-Saharan Africa for software developers. A notable recent G-Africa event is the G-Nigeria event held in February this year.
The Google Earth Outreach team has also been active around Africa helping people understand the importance of access and and development of geographic data in Africa.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Divon Lan has overall responsibility for Google’s products in Sub Saharan Africa. We’re trying to get a meeting with him so we can get more information about his visit and Google’s plans. We will fill you in on it if we succeed.