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Google replaces Nairobi head in Mocality dispute

Mrs Arara:-Kimani.  Left  in shake-up.
Mrs Arara:-Kimani. Left in shake-up. 

The dispute between a Kenya-based online business directory firm —Mocality—and Google has led to a shake-up of the later’s executive team in Nairobi, with its head, Olga Arara-Kimani, set to be replaced.

Mrs Arara-Kimani, who has been country manager of Google Kenya over the past two years, is said to have quit on Thursday a day before the US conglomerate issued a statement that it had dealt with its staff responsible for the breach.

Mocality had on January 13 accused Google of misrepresentation by approaching its online clients with the promise of creating their Web sites at a cost of Sh20,000 and that it was working with the Kenyan firm, prompting apologies from executives at the US firm
“I can confirm I have left Google Kenya.

As the leader of the Kenya office I felt the buck stopped with me and I decided to leave,” said Mrs Arara-Kimani in a telephone interview with the Business Daily on Monday.

Sources at Google’s Nairobi office said a number of executives have been replaced following the row between Google and Mocality, the Sub-Saharan Africa head, for Google declined to comment on the issuing terming the staff changes a private affair.

On Friday, Google said it had punished staff responsible for the breach that could cost it millions of dollars in compensation as Mocality mulls legal action.

“We’ve concluded our investigation into the serious allegations about our use of data from Mocality’s website in Kenya. We’re very sorry this happened and have taken appropriate action with the people involved and made changes in our operations to ensure this does not occur again,” said Nelson Mattos, Google’s Vice-President for Europe and Emerging Markets in a statement on Friday evening.

Mrs Arara-Kimani joined Google from Safaricom where she served as a senior executive .

She had been hired to lead the Nairobi office with the responsibility of growing local content in the search engine with the target of gaining a share of the region’s advertising market.

Kenya is the headquarters of Google’s sub-Saharan business covering operations in Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda.

Each of these countries is headed by a country manager who reports to Mr Joe Mucheru.
Mocality said it had referred the matter to the legal team of South Africa media giant Naspers—leading local lawyers to believe that Mocality is preparing for a legal battle with Google.

Mocality allows firms to list their contacts on its website and send 400 short messages on their products for free and charges Sh3 for every extra message of about 140 words.

For Google, the dispute--if it moves to court--will join a long list of legal battles the giant search engine is facing with firms such as Apple and Microsoft and Oracle over its Android platform.

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