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Google Recording 50% Annual Growth in African Search Requests

Google Inc. is benefiting from 50 percent annual growth in search requests coming from sub-Saharan Africa as people in the region gain Internet access through mobile devices, Business Development Associate Ayite Gaba said.

About 40 percent of search requests coming from mobile devices, Gaba told a conference in Dakar, Senegal, hosted by the Mountain View, California-based company.

The adoption of smart phones in the region is also powering growth in other services, such as Facebook, he said. The social networking platform is receiving 100,000 new Senegalese users each month at the moment, Gaba said. The number of YouTube video plays within sub-Saharan Africa is doubling each year, he said.

“In a few months there will be more users online through their phones than their home internet here in Senegal and in sub-Saharan Africa,” Gaba said.

Still, Google doesn’t “see Africa as an immediately profitable place,” Vice President for Operations in Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Carlo d’Asaro Blondo, told the conference.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s most expensive place for internet connectivity, with home internet connections averaging $45 a month, according to Google statistics presented in a slideshow.

A lack of local content is also hindering new connections, Blondo said, citing a study that showed only 0.2 percent of the world’s 255 million web pages were created by Africans.

“If Africans can’t find web pages that are relevant to them, they won’t have a reason to connect,” he said.

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