Inside Politics

Google says five-year injection will focus on fast, affordable internet access, product development

Thursday, October 7th, 2021 00:00 |
Google. Photo/Courtesy

Google has announced plans to invest $1billion (Sh110 billion) over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said the investment will focus on enabling fast, affordable internet access, product development and supporting entrepreneurship and small business, as well as helping non-profit organisations improve lives across Africa.

Pichai made the announcement yesterday, during the first Google for Africa event that was held virtually and streamlined live.

“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,” he said. 

“Today I’m excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups,” added Pichai.

The tech giant is currently building Equiano, a subsea cable which will run through South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St. Helena, connecting Africa with Europe, which Pichai said will enable affordable internet access.

To create demand for internet services, Pichai said they will expand the smartphone device financing plan they are currently running with Safaricom to other leading carriers on the continent, helping millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones.

The initiative dubbed Lipa Mdogo Mdogo makes it possible for customers to purchase a smartphone at affordable, daily installments of Sh20.

Black Founders Fund

Part of the investment will also involve the setting up of a $50 million (Sh5.5 billion) Black Founders Fund, money Google said will be invested in Black-led startups in Africa, providing them with cash awards and hands-on support to build products for their communities. 

Nitin Gajria, managing director for Google in Africa said he was so inspired by the innovative African tech startup scene, adding that in the last year they have seen more investment rounds into tech startups than ever before. 

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