Tech giant Google on Wednesday announced it will invest $1 billion in Africa’s innovation journey over the next five years. Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specialises in Internet-related services and products, including online advertising technologies, a search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware found on the 4th of September 1998.
Speaking during this year’s Google 4 Africa event held on Wednesday virtually. The company’s chief executive Sundar Pichai said the funds will be utilised to make technology accessible to more users in the continent.
“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.
Despite commanding a market of 1.2 billion people, Africa remains at the bottom of the global digital economy value chain. This is due to the high cost of mobile and fixed internet, with over half of the population accessing web services. With its investment, Google is focused on bridging this gap by offering faster internet to more people at lower connectivity costs. A new subsea cable Equiano is planned to run through South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena and connect the continent with Europe
From training over 6 million people across 25 African countries, to partnering with Safaricom in a device financing plan to make Android devices more accessible. The company is set to introduce Plus Codes on Google Maps, a free and open source addressing system to provide online addresses for millions of people without physical addresses. The company is also making an initiative with partners like Airtel, MTN, Orange, and Vodacom to help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones.
Through the Black Founders Fund, Google invests in African-led startups by providing cash awards and hands-on support. An addition to the already existing Google for Startups Accelerator programme, which has helped more than 80 African startups with equity-free finance, working space and access to expert advisors over the last three years.