Drivers in Nigeria now have the option of hearing route advice in a Nigerian accent when they use Google Maps.

The technology giant unveiled new features on Wednesday with the local accents also available on Google Assistant. It is the first move by the company to offer such a service in Africa as it seeks to attract more users on the continent.

Up to now, Nigerians have had to deal with travel advice from Google in an American accent, that struggled with pronouncing local names such as Lagos’ Alfred Rewane road – which came out as Alfred Re-wain. It also couldn’t cope with the suburb Oworonshoki.

Earlier, when it was tested by some Nigerians, they were surprised to hear an “accent that sounded like them”, according to social media comments.

Google said in the coming months, the maps feature will also allow users in Lagos to seek directions on what it calls “informal transit” – such as the yellow minibuses, known as danfo, that ply virtually every road in the commercial capital, but about which it is difficult for outsiders, or even Lagosians travelling to a new neighbourhood, to find information.

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