Home Google Hires Kenyan Activist to Shape Africa Policy

Google Hires Kenyan Activist to Shape Africa Policy

Kenyan Blogger Ory Okolloh has been hired by Google to oversee that company’s policy in Africa.

Most people outside the continent imagine Africa as being the size of a France or two. (In reality it’s the size of the U.S., China, Japan and most of Europe.) So it’s a big job for a big company that hasbigplans over a big area of the world.

Okolloh seems like a good candidate to handle such a job. A Harvard-educated attorney, she was involved in the global blogging project Global Voices early on and is the co-founder of crisis mapping outfit Ushahidi and a TED Fellow. She steps down from Ushahidi as Executive Director to take the Google job.

On her blog, Okolloh described the new position of Policy Manager for Africa.

“The role will involve developing policy (and) strategies on a number of areas of relevance to Google and the Internet in Africa and will involve working with different parties including government leaders, policy makers, regulators, industry groups and so on. It is a huge opportunity to bring Google’s resources to bear as far as the growth and development of the internet in Africa (and hopefully a reminder of why I went to law school in the first place!).”

Jon Gosier, Director of Product for SwiftRiver at Ushahidi told us he thinks Okolloh might help make Google’s actions on the continent more coherent.

“Google Africa hasn’t really been as focused as it has been in other parts of the world. I think hiring Ory is the right move as she’s a lawyer, so she understands the policy side of things, but she also founded and ran a technology company for three years. There isn’t a better a choice for the position, although it’s bittersweet to lose one of my colleagues.”

Okolloh told ReadWriteWeb she would be based in Johannesburg, RSA, starting in mid-January, with a portfolio that includes the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.

“Overall, I’ll be working to get more people online and policies favorable to that, also (cultivate) support for local content and an environment which supports innovation.”

Read more ReadWriteWeb coverage of Google and of Ushahidi.

Okolloh photo from World Economic Forum | other sources: Los Angeles Times

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