Exploring Cape Town with Google
In a recent event in South Africa, tagged Cape Town with Google, the tech giant invited some of the continent’s media savvy, brand influencers and journalist, among others to Cape Town to witness the growth of the country’s tourism sector and to train them on how best to use technology in identifying some significant locations in the city, the hospitality aspect of South Africa and taste of the country’s rich delicacies, among others.
The evening of September 26, 2019, get together for the team from Nigerian, South Africa, Kenya and members of the Google team from the US at the Radisson Red Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront Hotel marked the beginning of the outing.
A visit to Bo-Kaap, the most colourful neighbourhoods in Cape Town, situated against Signal Hill, sets the tone for the team of things to come as they learned how to make beads at the Monkeybiz and produced a bead each.
“No one likes to be poor. No one likes to depend on handouts or the charity of others. A project such as Monkeybiz addresses a very deep human need, in that it helps people to help themselves,” Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of the Anglican Church of South Africa, had said during the inauguration of the centre years ago.
The majority of Monkeybiz artists have known poverty, neglect, and deprivation for most of their lives. Against this background, Monkeybiz has achieved tremendous impact by providing a basic income to many families who would otherwise have been left destitute.
Monkeybiz pays the women immediately as the work is delivered on a market day. Every artist has a bank account, encouraging money management and helping with cash security. Monkeybiz pays the bead makers depending on the quality of their work, encouraging improvement and inspiring higher standards.
Then, the team thereafter toured Bo-Kaap to see some of the city’s iconic spots including visiting the oldest mosque in South Africa, which was built in 1794, and how the city is fighting gentrification that became another major thing to contend with after the apartheid that ended in the early 1990s.
If there is a festival celebrated every day around the world, the Noon Gun will be the first on the list, which the team was able to be part of. The Noon Gun has been a historic time signal in Cape Town since 1806. It consists of a pair of black powder Dutch naval guns, fired alternating with one serving as a backup. The guns are situated on Signal Hill, close to the centre of the city and are shot to honour fallen heroes.
The Nigeria team, led by Head, Google, Communications & Public Affairs (West Africa), Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade; the Kenyans were led by Google’s Head, Communication and Public Affairs for East and Francophone Africa, Dorothy Ooko and the South Africans led by Head of Communications and Public Affairs at Google, South Africa, MichAtagana also visited Utopia restaurant to have panoramic view of Cape Town.
One of the things Nigeria and other African countries can learn from South Africa is the way it developed its tourism sector as a way of economic diversification. The Cableway Table Mountain opened on 4th of October 1929 has become one of the world most visited iconic landmark, though, it took 28 years for the mountain to get its first million visitors. But the persistence and commitment to developing and promoting tourism, South Africa Tourism has been able to witness hundreds of people visit the mountain daily with the mountain recording 855 000 visitors in 2018.
One of the tools the team of over 30 persons was introduced to was the Google Lens. With Google’s latest visual analysis product, future of search using your phone’s camera to identify objects and then gives you information about those objects basically a sort of real-time reverse image lookup, or, if you prefer, an augmented reality (AR) Google.
However you choose to describe it, Google Lens can perform some cool tricks. This made the tools come handy in identifying and promoting the African tourism sector. Imagine being able to identify almost anything in the world simply by pointing your phone at it, Google Lens, allows smartphone users to do just that.
The object recognition technology is designed to bring up relevant information related to objects it identifies, all by using a device’s camera.
It’s just one of the ways that Google is allowing for AR to be incorporated into the way we consume real-world information through technology.
Speaking on the app, Google product manager, Lou Wan, said, “There is much opportunity to discover and explore with Google Lens when you come to a new place. It helps people to be more curious and find out more about what they see.
Meanwhile, Google lens is not built to take pictures of people randomly and tell you about them because of privacy.
“You see things in real life -whether it’s an animal or plant you don’t recognise, or even a shoe or handbag and a lot of times words aren’t great to describe the item and it’s hard to search for those specific things, that’s why we created Google Lens.
“One of the products we launched recently is the ability to translate in real-time. You can point your camera at words you don’t understand and you get it translated.”
The most adventurous task of the tour was when the team was divided into groups of seven and drove 18 minutes on the beautiful road network of the Rainbow Nation to Montague Drive, Montague Gardens, Cape Town and Atlantic Studio for a cooking competition supervised by one of the best interactive cooking show in South Africa, Forkit.
The team was split into seven groups for the competition where they were mandated to prepare different cuisine. It was a wine day for the team as they visited Middelvlei Wine Estate for wine blending experience. Thereafter, they proceeded to Spier Wine Estate for a wine tasting before lunch at the Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery.
South Africa exploits in wine manufacturing may not be at the current level without Nederburg, the last wine spot the team visited. Founded in 1937, Nederburg is a multiple-award-winning winery and vineyard and has claimed numerous 5-star reviews. The team learned about the history of the firm and how it establishes itself as one of the best wine company in the world, producing 14 million litres yearly and exporting 60 per cent of its product.
Two Oceans Aquarium was the last place visited by the team, for its closing dinner. Unlike the Abuja Millennium Park that lacks aquatic life, which the management said it ended abruptly due to theft, two Oceans Aquarium boasts of amazing aquatic life including sharks, jellyfish among others.
With Google, Africa continent can sell its tourism sector to the world and boost its dwindling revenue generation instead of depending on borrowing from the World Bank.
Meanwhile, if there’s anything upcoming Nigerian artistes can learn from the South Africans in promoting their songs, it is the way they promote their music through street performances; there’s always one or two groups performing live at every spot in Cape Town towards the evening hour. They do this while people watch, record, take pictures and patronise their work.
Speaking on her experience, LilysNjeru, a journalist with Daily Nation, Kenya, who was part of the Kenya team at the tour, said, “I am the Google Maps because it helps you to navigate the city and it comes handy for me as a journalist. The second is the Google Lens; I discovered that I don’t need to ask anybody questions on where they buy some stuff, I can just snap and check it out on Google lens.”
On her favourite spot in Cape Town, she said, “You visit some places and you can hardly describe them but for Cape
Town, this is a town you get to feel. I visited Bo-Kaap and that place is fantastic; the colour, the streets is so clean and the people were so friendly.
I met some really amazing people from Nigeria and I like the good sense of humour. It’s a pleasure getting to meet the founder of Zeelicious foods, Winifred Emmanuel; I have been following her on the social media and getting to meet her in real life was fantastic,” she enthused.
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