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Google official speaks on Zim prospects


Zimbabwe is fortunate to have young people who are not bogged down by the many challenges they face, but have great ideas they are determined to pursue, Ory Okolloh Googles policy manager for Sub-Saharan Africa said .

Speaking at the AMH conversations on Lessons from Googles culture of innovation in Harare yesterday, Okolloh said innovation required both ideas and technology.

There is very little complaining or whining about things that are wrong. They (the young people) are very focused on getting work done. You are very fortunate that when things turn around, and they will turn around in Zimbabwe, the only way is up because you do have the talent, said Okolloh.

Already I can see there are amazing people; amazing talent and you already have a strong foundation.

Okolloh said there were no plans for Google to set up an office in Zimbabwe or in other parts of the world in the short to medium term.

She said Google took innovation seriously and spent an average of $140 000 on every employee towards research and development annually. When it comes to innovation, she said, it did not matter if one failed while attempting to achieve something big.

In Africa the penalty of failure is too high, she said.

In order to promote the culture of innovation at Google, Okolloh said employees committed up to 20% of their time to work on their own projects.
Innovation is very much evolution. Innovation is about incentives. You rather think big and fail, she said.

She said cooperation was important in undertaking projects adding: It teaches you that very little can be achieved as an individual.

Googles hiring process was rigorous she said, because the company prioritised attracting the right calibre of employees.

Okolloh said the multinational corporations priority on the continent was to get as many people as possible online but the company took a pragmatic and long term view to innovation.

She said Zimbabwe had a lot to learn from the challenges the country had managed to navigate through in the past

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