The search giant, Google, has announced a plan to invest $1billion over five years to support digital transformation in Africa. The CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, disclosed this today at the first Google for Africa event.
According to the Google CEO, the planned $1billion investment will include enabling affordable internet access and building helpful products across the continent. He disclosed that Google is building a 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.
Announcing the investment plan at the virtual event, 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.”
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.
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 - 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 is 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 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 per cent of participants experiencing growth in their career and/or business as a result. Google has also supported more than 50 non-profits across Africa with over $16million of investment and enabled hundreds of millions of Africans to access internet services for the first time through Android.