The developing world represents a untapped opportunity for growth for internet companies, and today one of the largest has set out its strategy for developing Africa’s digital transformation.
Google has announced it would be investing $1 billion to support “digital transformation” across Africa. This includes landing a subsea cable into the continent to enable faster internet speeds, similar to their recent Grace Hopper cable. It also includes low-interest loans for small businesses, equity investments for African start-ups, digital skills training and more.
The plans were unveiled at a recent event led by Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai.
“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 $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation, to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups,” said Pichai.
Google said it will be injecting their investment towards projects to be put in place in countries across the continent, including but not limited to, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana.
The subsea cable will cut across South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena, connecting Africa to Europe. The cable will aim to provide an increase in network capacity, approximately 20 times more than it predecessor built to serve Africa, said the MD for Google in Africa, Nitin Gajria.
“This will lead to a 21% reduction in internet prices and increase internet speed in Nigeria and almost triple in South Africa,” said Gajria.
Google has projected that with this investment, there may be upwards of 1.7 million jobs generated in Nigeria and South Africa by 2025, as their digital economy grows.
Google also announced the launch of the Africa Investment Fund, where it will invest $50 million in start-ups across Africa, providing the continent “with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build meaningful products for their communities.”
Google’s investments in Africa will support the continent’s digital transformation in four key areas:
- Enabling affordable access and building products for every kind of African user.
- Helping businesses with their digital transformation.
- Investing in entrepreneurs to spur next-generation technologies.
- Supporting non-profits working to improve lives across Africa.