During the just-ended Google For Africa virtual event, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, disclosed that the company intends to invest $1billion over five years to support the digitisation drive of Africa.
The investment will be channelled towards causes such as enabling fast and affordable internet access for Africans, building helpful products, supporting entrepreneurship and small businesses, and helping non-profits improve lives across Africa.
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Equiano High-Speed Cable
On how these targets will be achieved, it was revealed that Google is an undersea cable known as Equiano, which will connect Africa to Europe through South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St. Helena. The project, when completed, will help bring faster internet to more people and lower connectivity costs.
Africa Investment Fund
In terms of helping African-led startups, the company announced the launch of an Africa Investment Fund. This fund will invest $50M in startups and provide them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help produce sustainable products and services for their communities.
The fund will be an addition to Google’s existing support project – Google for Startups Accelerator Africa, which has provided over 80 African startups with equity-free finance, working space, and access to expert advisors in the last three years.
Partnership With Kiva
Entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses based in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa will be supported to mitigate the economic difficulties brought by COVID-19. This will come in a partnership with non-profit organisation Kiva to provide $10M in low-interest loans.
Support For Non-Profits
It was also announced that Google.org is entrenching its support to non-profits in Africa, with an additional $40M to help more partner organisations. Google is providing a grant of $3M to the Airqo team at Makerere University, who use AI and sensors to monitor poor air quality, a leading cause of premature death.
This is to facilitate expanding the groundbreaking work from Kampala to 10 other cities in 5 countries on the continent.
Commenting on Google’s efforts commitment towards Africa’s digital development, Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa, said that “I am inspired by the innovative African tech startup scene. In the last year, we have seen 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.”
The announcement of Google’s $1bn investment is a testament to the giant’s devotion to supporting Africa’s digitisation. Since 2017, Google has trained 6 million young Africans and businesses in digital skills.
Google has also supported more than 50 non-profits across Africa with over $16 million of grants and enabled 100 million more Africans to access internet services for the first time through Android. Africans in the tech space are therefore entreated to take advantage of these opportunities to grow their businesses.