Ory Okolloh exits Google for Omidyar Network

Ory Okolloh has exited Google for Omidyar Network. Photo/FILE
Ory Okolloh has exited Google for Omidyar Network. Photo/FILE  Nation Media Group

Google is set to begin search for a policy manager for its Africa operations following the exit of Ory Okolloh, who left the firm late last month to join a philanthropic investment firm, Omidyar Network.

Omidyar Network, in a press release Thursday, said it had tapped Ms Okolloh to help it drive the organisation's work in supporting innovative institutions that use technology and media platforms to provide access to information and tools necessary for citizens to participate in the governing process.

Ms Okolloh joins Omidyar Network's Johannesburg office as a director, investments within the firm's government transparency initiative.

Until her departure at Google, Ms Okolloh was in charge of policy advocacy to governments, mainly centred on persuading them to adapt policies that allow more people to connect to the Internet, and to put their content online to boost transparency.

"Ory is a well-established leader in the technology and transparency communities," said Omidyar Network Partner Stephen King. "She will help spur Omidyar Network's growth and impact by lending her voice and considerable experience in Africa."

"We are delighted to have Ory lend her insights and expertise to our efforts in Africa," said Malik Fal, managing director, Africa for Omidyar Network. "She will bring a unique blend of experience, and her collaboration will be of tremendous value to all of our work on the continent."

Google Kenya told Business Daily that the firm is in the process of advertising for the position previously held by Ms Okolloh, which will posted on its jobs website, but in the meantime the duties are being handled by its policy team.

“We will find a suitable replacement but have nothing to announce right now. We remain committed to our policy and government relations work across Africa, and have regional policy managers in Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. Our activities will continue as usual and our policy team is available to contact, as before,” said Dorothy Ooko, Communications and Public Affairs East and Francophone Africa.

Ms Okolloh is a co-founder of Mzalendo and a Chayes Fellow at the World Bank's Department of Institutional Integrity. She is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and sits on the board of the Africa Media Initiative.

She is also a co-founder of Ushahidi, a pioneering, free open source platform for crowdsourcing crisis information. Ushahidi, which combines mapping with eye-witness reports, has been used to monitor elections in Kenya, Mexico and India, track violence in eastern Congo and map post-earthquake crisis in Haiti.

Prior to co-founding Ushahidi, Ms Okolloh founded Mzalendo, a website that helps Kenya’s electorate keep track of the activities of their representatives in Parliament. The platform closely monitors and analyses Bills, speeches, and every MP who passes through Kenya’s Parliament, hence promoting transparency and accountability.