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Google reiterate commitment to Africa, earnmarks $1 billion to support digital transformation

By Eniola Daniel
07 October 2021   |   3:36 am
Technology giant, Google has reiterated its commitment to digital economy and transformation in Africa.

(Photo by SUSANA BATES / AFP)

To run subsea cable Equiano through Nigeria, South Africa, others

Technology giant, Google has reiterated its commitment to digital economy and transformation in Africa.

Google made the announcement during the maiden edition of Google for Africa event held yesterday.
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 training 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. Google 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.

CEO, Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai said during the virtual programmed that the firm will invest $1billion over five years to support digital transformation in the continent.
The 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.
Since 2017, Google has trained 6 million young Africans and businesses in digital skills. Google has also supported more than 50 nonprofits organisations across Africa with over $16 million of grants and enabled 100 million more Africans to access internet services for the first time through Android.

The investment includes enabling affordable internet access and building helpful products and building global infrastructure to help bring faster Internet to more people and lower connectivity costs. The subsea cable Equiano will run through Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, and St Helena and connect the continent with Europe.

Google stated that Internet access is hampered by the affordability of smartphones.

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 Airtel, MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom, and others. These partnerships will help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones.

Google says it will also invest in entrepreneurship and technology through the Black Founders Fund and 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.

In collaboration with non-profit organisation Kiva, Google is providing $10 million in low-interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa get through the economic hardship caused by COVID-19.

The company through Google.org is expanding its commitment to support nonprofits working to improve lives across Africa, with $40 million to help more partners who are responding to challenges they see first hand in their communities. Google is also providing $3 million in new grant funding to expand this pioneering work from Kampala across 10 cities in five countries on the continent.

CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai said: “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. Today I’m excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of $1B over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups.”

Managing Director for Google in Africa, Nitin Gajria,d, said “I am so 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.”