- Google’s investment will include the landing of the subsea cable Equiano which will enable faster internet speeds and lower connectivity costs
- It also includes low-interest loans to help small businesses and equity investments in African startups
- Google is building global infrastructure to help bring faster internet to more people and lower connectivity costs
Google has announced a plan to invest $1billion over 5 years to support Africa’s digital transformation.
According to the company, the investment focuses on enabling fast, affordable internet access for more Africans; building helpful products; supporting entrepreneurship and small business, and helping nonprofits to improve lives across Africa.
The announcement was made at Google’s first-ever Google for Africa event, held virtually and live-streamed.
The planned $1billion investment announced today by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, will include enabling affordable internet access and building helpful products.
Pichai said Google is building global infrastructure to help bring faster internet to more people and lower connectivity costs.
The subsea cable Equiano will run through South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena and connect the continent with Europe.
Pichai said internet access is also hampered by the affordability of smartphones and said that android has developed a device locking technology as part of the android platform that will enable partners to offer financed devices.
“Google has collaborated with Kenya’s largest carrier Safaricom to support the launch of the first “Device Financing” plan in Kenya, and will expand this initiative across Africa with partners like Airtel, MKOPA,
MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom, and more.
These partnerships will help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones.
The deal will also include plus codes, which will be free and open-source addressing system to provide addresses for everyone.
According to Google, the government of The Gambia has adopted this in providing addresses for residents and businesses across the capital Banjul and are now scaling to the rest of the country.
Plus Codes will expand to South Africa, Kenya and other countries in partnership with governments and non-governmental organisations.
Support to businesses
The investment will also see the company dedicate funding to entrepreneurship.
Through a Black Founders Fund, Google will invest in Black-led startups in Africa by providing cash awards and hands-on support.
This is in addition to Google’s existing support through the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa, which has helped more than 80 African startups with equity-free finance, working space and access to expert advisors over the last three years.
Google also announced the launch of an Africa Investment Fund. Through this fund, the company will invest $50M in startups and provide them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build meaningful products for their communities.
The giant tech firm also plans on empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation.
As such, Google, in collaboration with the non-profit organisation Kiva, the company is is providing $10M in low-interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19.
The company will also renew its funding for nonprofits.
“Google.org is expanding its commitment to support nonprofits working to improve lives across Africa, with $40M to help more partners who are responding to challenges they see first-hand in their
communities,” the company said.
The company will therefore target innovators like the Airqo team at Makerere University, who use AI and sensors to monitor poor air quality, a leading cause of premature death.
Google will also be providing $3M in new grant funding to expand this pioneering work from Kampala across 10 cities in 5 countries on the continent.
The announcement expands Google’s ongoing support for Africa’s digital transformation and entrepreneurship.
In 2017, Google launched its Grow with Google initiative with a commitment to train 10 million young Africans and small businesses in digital skills.
To date, Google has trained over 6 million people across 25 African countries, with over 60% of participants experiencing growth in their career and/or business as a result.
The company has also supported more than 50 nonprofits across Africa with over $16million of investment, and enabled hundreds of millions of Africans to access internet services for the first time through Android.
“We’ve made huge strides together over the past decade — but there’s more work to do to make the internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African,” Pichai said.
Speaking in the same event, Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa added that in the last year
there had been more investment rounds into tech startups than ever before.
“I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and startup founders. We look forward to deepening our partnership with, and support for, Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs.”