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Google Spends $1bn for Africa’s Digital Transformation

TECHDIGEST- Giant tech company, Google says it plans to invest $1billion over 5 years to support Africa’s digital transformation.

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.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, announced the planned $1bn investment today at Google’s first-ever Google for Africa event, held virtually and live-streamed across Africa, including Nigeria.

Under the $1billion investment plan, 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.

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.

In collaboration with the non-profit organisation Kiva, Google 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.

In addition, Google 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 – innovators like the Airqo team at Makerere University, who use AI and sensors to monitor poor air quality, a leading cause of premature death.

It is also providing $3M in new grant funding to expand this pioneering work from Kampala across 10 cities in 5 countries on the continent.

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 percent 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.

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.”

Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa added: “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.”

Also speaking, South Africa’s Minister of Small Business Development, Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams, said: “I am happy to note that Google has been active in supporting small to medium enterprises, dedicating even more resources to this sector, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the last 12 months, Google has helped close to 500,000 African businesses get online and reach new customers.”

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