Google Kenya and the Google Global Cache

Google is well known for snatching up top-level talent, this holds true in Kenya as well. ICT groundbreaker Joe Mucheru heads up the Kenya office, and he’s surrounded by a team of smart young technologists. I had the chance to meet Isis Nyong’o (Strategic Parter Development Manager) while getting ready for Barcamp Nairobi, and then Chris Kiagiri (Tech Lead) and Mark de Blois (Geographic Supervisor) last week before I left.

Google Kenya is Different

I found out a couple of interesting points that make the Google Kenya office even more interesting than before. It turns out that there are 3 offices in Africa; Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. However, the office in Kenya is neither a sales office nor an engineering office, which makes it unique globally. In fact, it is the only “deployment office” worldwide. This means that the Kenya office can be used as a launch point for new ideas and is the central focal point for Google’s Africa strategy.

It came down to a choice between Senegal and Kenya – one French-speaking and one English-speaking, and both with a fairly well developed technology sector. Senegal had a direct transatlantic cable, but Kenya had the right people available. At Google it seems, finding the right personnel usually trumps about everything else.

Speaking of which, they’re still looking for the right people, not only in Senegal, but also in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Unfortunately, Google HR seems to be geographically challenged, as jobs in Egypt are somehow not in Africa…

Dealing with a Slow Internet in Africa

The Google Global Cache (GGC) was announced in May at the African Network Operators Group (AFNOG) conference in Morocco. In lieu of data centers in Africa, Google has created a strategy that is housed at major exchange points to serve Africa at the edge of Google’s network. Internal tests suggested at least 20% performance increase in high latency links, like East Africa.

[The top cycle (1,2,3 & 4) is how things normally work. The bottom cycle (5,6 &7) is where the changes are.]

It works like this. Once anyone within that exchange point’s sphere visits a webpage, the information is cached and it becomes much faster for anyone else visiting that website to access it. Pre-fetching of data also that improves performance over time, even for dynamic content.

This is an interesting strategy. It’s a win for ISP’s (less international traffic means lower costs), a win for end users (pages load faster), and a win for Google (faster, better usage).

The pilot in Africa was turned on in Kenya just 2 weeks ago. There are 17 international exchange points (IXP) in 15 African nations, so with a positive pilot in Kenya, this could soon be seen continent-wide.

Keep your ears open, there are hints of even more interesting stuff coming out of the Google Kenya office.

54 thoughts on “Google Kenya and the Google Global Cache

  1. Hash, I think Senegal is french-speaking. Why do you think Kenya has better-trained people than say Nigeria or Ghana?

  2. @ wilf – thanks. That’s what sleep deprivation will do to you. :) I’ll fix it in a minute… Also, my understanding wasn’t that any country had better training than any other. It was more that they’re looking for that perfect fit to head up a country office before they pull the trigger.

  3. I realy love the fact that Google is coming in to Africa, but do we have any local firms or startups that will be ready to put a challenge to Google like baidu is doing in China ??
    Else they willjust come and run the online media sector in Africa

  4. Interesting post. I just read a recent business week article about how the Russians have designed their own search engine which is trumping google for their market. There is a lot of brain power in Africa. I wish that we would develop a search model which would truly intuit the search dynamics for our culture. The time has certainly come.

  5. @Lola and Afrostartups – it would be somewhat difficult in Africa to design a search engine that truly works. Africa’s internet penetration is only about 4%, and having over 6,000 tribes/cultures makes for quite a challenge. I do however see the potential for semantic search, an arena which even Google is having a tough time with. With semantic search for example, two words together can be more than the sum of their parts and mean something totally different when used apart or mean one thing in one country, and something totally different somewhere else.

  6. It’s interesting reading about the advances Google is making in Africa, having Kenya as a launch pad.
    It worries me to note that our Telecommunications companies are spending lots of cash advertising <a href=”″ title=”Telecoms operators raise the stakes in advertising market” while their web sites are always under construction.
    They should be at the forefront with the Internet. After all, many people use these firms to access the internet.

  7. chris says:

    I do not believe that the Baidu analogy is one we want to emulate, if we are to continue championing the openness of the internet. Google is merely a platform that leaves plenty of room for local firms and startups to carve their niche.

  8. I believe this is launch pad for all us who believe in doing online business in africa and also a great chance for our local ISPs to shine interms of bandwidth saving, quick service delivery and others.

    Its such a lovely idea to have kenya as center of google in africa. This will even help us in uganda move a step ahead. Am just starting my online business and there is one thing am looking at people having services as fast as they can.

    Can you imagine that its still like 20% of the whole africa population of people who know how to purchase and sell online? its so pathetic.
    Its time we get help then we can do our own things at later point.

    Big thumbs for google…………………………i cant wait to have 1min surf of heavy page like MTV, and others.

    cheers guys

  9. I agree with chris, the low-hanging fruit here seems to be cooperating with Google (mash-ups, etc.), and not trying to compete with it.

  10. lindsy says:

    hi,am lindsy,been tryinbg to contact google office in kenya,but cant get the telephone no.
    please give me the telephone no.
    i will greatly appreciate.thankyou.

  11. Ken Ouko says:

    I am trying to reach googlekenya. Please mail me your phone numbers or e-address. This is URGENT

  12. Google global cache sounds a good start especially with video content consumption and google maps mashups. Look forward to faster and better online experience for google users in zambia. Kwachagoogo!

  13. esther ngiye says:

    I am trying to reach googlekenya. Please mail me your phone numbers or e-address. This is URGENT

  14. wayne says:

    hey boss am looking for the Google East Africa Company profile..can you kindly assist me as i can’t place their website

  15. Wanjiru says:

    HI. Please send me the contact of the Google Kenya offices as well as their email. Thank you.

  16. Duncan Irungu Mwangi says:

    I agree to that,”kenya’s bit”. I am a software Eng. student in kenya looking forward to joining this great organisation and grow it even further! We are looking for this kind of international exposure.


    Duncan Mwangi,

  17. Farooq Malik says:

    Google has broken the smart phone barrier with the intro of the locked and unlocked HTC Nexus One and their great OS. I wonder when is google planning to launch the unlocked phone for the Kenyan market? HTC doesnt have a store locally and Safaricom who sells HTC Touch HD will take a year or a few to bring this phone into the market just as it has done with the Touch HD. Keep it flowing Google.

  18. bella says:

    Kindly I would like to know where your offices are located plus any other details of how to reach you guys

  19. I would like to join the staff at google Kenya. I am a IST student at the United States International Univesity and I got a lot of skills in Computers which I think should be nurtured to greater heights. thanks in advance

  20. Rachel Githumbi says:

    Please send me your contacts (telephone) for the Kenya office because I would like to get in touch,it is very urgent.Thank you

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