Google has announced a plan to invest $1billion over five 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 non-profits to improve lives across Africa.
The announcement was made at Google’s first ever Google for Africa event, held virtually and livestreamed. The planned $1billion investment was announced by Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google and Alphabet.
According to Pichai, 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.
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 partners like Airtel, MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom, and more. These partnerships will help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones.
Google is also coming out with Plus Codes, a free and open source addressing system to provide addresses for everyone.
He announced that through a Black Founders Fund, Google will invest in Black-led start-ups in Africa by providing cash awards and hands-on support.
This is in addition to Google’s existing support through the Google for Start-ups Accelerator Africa, which has helped more than 80 African start-ups 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 $50 million in start-ups 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 $10 million 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 non-profits 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 $3 million 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 train 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 non-profits across Africa with over $16 million of investment, and enabled hundreds of millions of Africans to access internet services for the first time through Android.
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.”
The managing director for Google in Africa, Niton Garjria, said: “I am so inspired by the innovative African tech start-up scene. In the last year we have seen more investment rounds into tech start-ups 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 start-up founders. We look forward to deepening our partnership with, and support for, Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs.”