Google is committed to digital economy and transformation in Africa, the technology giant announced at the maiden edition of Google for Africa event on Wednesday.
The Chief Executive Officer, Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, said during the virtual programme that the firm would invest $1bn over five years to support digital transformation in 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 six million people across 25 African countries, with over 60 per cent of participants experiencing growth in their career as a result. It has also supported more than 50 non-profits across Africa with over $16m, and enabled hundreds of millions of Africans to access Internet services for the first time through Android.
The $16m will be invested in affordable Internet access, helpful products and 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, connecting the continent with Europe.
Internet access is hampered by the affordability of smartphones, Google stated.
The American multinational technology company that specialises in Internet-related services and products has collaborated with Kenya’s largest carrier, Safaricom, to support the launch of the first device financing plan, and will expand this initiative across Africa with Airtel, MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom. These partnerships will help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android phones.
Google has also promised to 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 its 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.
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 $1bn 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, 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.”
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