Google has announced a new addition to Google Maps in Nigeria that will speak in a local voice and also introduced new features specifically for the region, according to a report by Reuters.
The move is an attempt to attract more Africans to the service. The feature is called local accents, and it was introduced at an event in the Nigerian capital of Lagos. The accents are also available on Google Assistant, and it’s the first time such a service has been offered in the country by the tech giant.
The fact that Africa has been seeing an increase in mobile users, an growing population and cities with inadequate signage has led to Google seeing a potential for growth.
Google is offering advanced transport features like maps with a lot of detail, and ride-hailing services for motorcycles. The motorcycle directions are also going to be available in the Benin Republic, Ghana, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda starting on Wednesday (July 24).
Google said it wants to actively increase its user base beyond just drivers, as well.
“There are 10 million [motorcycles] in Nigeria, it’s hugely popular,” said Ramesh Nagarajan, Google’s director of product management. “We’re going market by market based on popularity.”
There are also plans for users in the capital to find directions on so-called “informal transit,” including small, yellow minibuses that coat the roads in the capital but are difficult to keep track of.
Google and a startup called Road Preppers Technologies teamed up to get the data on all the different available routes, and it has a goal of giving people the best information based on variables like road conditions, traffic and weather.
“What we’re really hoping is for people who might be making a trip to an unfamiliar town, maybe a journey they don’t usually take, to be able to discover the info they need to make that journey,” said Jeff Albertson, a Google senior product manager who worked on the development.