BY JULIET EHIMUAN
Juliet Ehimuan, director, West Africa, Google, has over 25 years’ experience primarily in technology, oil and gas, and new media industries across Europe, Middle East and Africa. She holds an Executive MBA from the London Business School, a postgraduate degree in computer science from the University of Cambridge; and a Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Here’s what they reveal and how technology can help
Since Google launched in Nigeria, we’ve seen a few periods of global uncertainty, including the 2008 financial crisis; increasing frequency of climate-related disasters, and a global pandemic. Each brought their own degree of uncertainty – and each time, people turned to Google to seek out information and help them make decisions.
We’re once again seeing search trends that show people are feeling unsure about the world around them. Fortunately, a lot has changed in the past 15 years that can help. In 2007, only 20 percent of the world’s population had internet access. Today, 38 percent of Nigerians and 60 percent of the world are online: with all the information, skills and support that technology can provide.
Technology cannot solve all of the concern and anxiety that these trends show – but it can be used to help. Here are some search trends we’ve seen in Nigeria this year and how technology and business can and should intervene.
Concerns about covid and the climate aren’t going anywhere
As economies re-open, it could be tempting to think that the uncertainty of the pandemic is behind us. Search interest in coronavirus hit an all-time high worldwide in March 2020 – but it is far from leaving people’s concerns entirely, as searches have changed to reflect new phases of the pandemic.
In Nigeria, in the past 90 days, searches for “difference between covid and flu” and “symptoms of coronavirus” doubled (+100%), while searches for “causes of coronavirus” went up by 90 percent. Google will continue to provide accurate and timely information on everything from symptoms to vaccines as people strive to return to everyday life.
Additionally, search trends show that apprehension about the climate crisis has continued to grow. Search interest in climate change reached the highest level of the past decade in April 2022 in Nigeria, while searches for other environmental issues, including “climate change”, “pollution” and “global warming”, reached an all-time high in April 2022.
Given these concerns, businesses need to both help customers make small, meaningful changes and to walk the walk themselves, reducing emissions and cutting their footprint.
Creating technology to help achieve this is a key part of our role. Google wants to help one billion people make more sustainable choices by the end of this year and is making changes to our most popular products to help make sustainable decisions easier. Our eco-friendly routing for example, which recently launched in Germany, will help users cut their bills and emissions by providing them with the most fuel-efficient and quickest route, and this change alone could save one million tonnes of carbon emissions a year.
Cybersecurity and privacy online have never been more important
With more people using the internet to manage their daily lives than ever, it’s no surprise that there has been an increase in searches about cybersecurity and privacy.
Nigerian searches for “what is phishing” increased by 40 percent, while searches for “phishing attack” increased by 50 percent. Additionally, search interest in “privacy” increased 30 percent in Nigeria compared to this time last year, and searches for “Private browsing” went up by 60 percent versus this time last year.
People want to embrace technology – but they want to know that their personal information will be safe. To help with that, Google has built many of the internet’s first tools to manage confidential data – like the Privacy Checkup, a central place which allows you to review your key privacy settings, and Takeout – where you can download or delete your Google data. We are also working with the industry and regulators to make changes across the board – prioritising users’ privacy and security.
People want to understand the wider economic uncertainty – and are keen to save
As our CEO, Sundar Pichai, said recently, we face “an uncertain global economic outlook”. Search trends show that people want to better understand what’s happening and how they can manage it.
Searches for “how to make money” have been the top “how to make” search in Nigeria in 2022, while searches for “how to save” increased by 20 percent. Searches for “how to start a business” dropped in Nigeria this year.
We’ve seen this before. During the pandemic, businesses that adopted new digital skills built ‘a digital safety net’. Working in partnership with governments and other organisations, Google has helped 10 million people to find jobs, digitise and grow across the region – and we stand ready to support again now.
These trends show people feel uncertain about what lies ahead, but no matter where we head, I’m hopeful that technology will form a part of the solution. Our mission at Google to make information accessible and useful has never been more important: and we’re here to help.
In the last 90 days, “covid-19 household loan application form” almost tripled (+180%); “difference between covid and flu” and “symptoms of coronavirus” doubled (+100%); “causes of coronavirus” went up by 90 percent, “coronavirus history” increased by 70 percent and “signs of covid” rose by 40 percent.
There is no search interest in climate anxiety or eco anxiety in Nigeria. However: Search interest in climate change reached the highest level of the past decade in April 2022 in Nigeria.
Search interest in the vertical environmental issues – which tracks search interest in search terms such as “climate change”, “pollution” and “global warming” – has reached an all-time high in April 2022. “
Search interest in Privacy went up by +30 percent in Nigeria in H1 2022 vs H1 2021, whilst search interest for Phishing increased by +40 percent. Search term “phishing website” more than doubled (+100%) while “phishing meaning” increased by 80 percent. “Phishing attack” rose by +50 percent and “what is phishing” went up by +40 percent.
Private browsing went up by 60 percent in Nigeria in H1 2022 vs H1 2021. Search interest in the topic has reached its highest point of the past nine years in July 2022.
Search interest in Money peaked in July in Nigeria.
“How to make money” is one of the top searched “how to” questions in the country so far in 2022. “How to save” went up by 20 percent in H1 2022 vs H1 2021
Search interest in “how to start a business” has dropped in Nigeria this year.