Google today announced a plan to invest $1billion or R15 billion over 5 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 nonprofits 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 announced today by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, will include:
- Enabling affordable internet access and building helpful products
○ 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.
○ Internet access is also hampered by the affordability of smartphones. Android has
developed a device locking technology as part of the Android platform that will
enable partners to offer financed devices. 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, MKOPA,
MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom, and more. These partnerships will
help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable
○ Plus Codes are a free and open source addressing system to provide addresses for
everyone. The government of The Gambia has adopted this in providing addresses
for residents and businesses across the capital Banjul and are now scaling to the rest of the country. Plus codes will expand to South Africa, Kenya and other countries in partnership with governments and non-governmental organisations.
Investments in entrepreneurship and technology.
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.
“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,” CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai said.
“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.”
Google also announced the launch of an Africa Investment Fund. Through this fund, the company will invest $50 million in startups and provide them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build meaningful products for their communities.
Empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation
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.
Renewed funding for nonprofits.
Google.org is expanding its commitment to support nonprofits working to improve lives across Africa, with $40 million 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 nonprofits across Africa with over $16million of investment, and enabled hundreds of millions of Africans to access internet services for the first time through Android.
“I am so inspired by the innovative African tech startup scene. In the last year we have seen more investment rounds into tech startups than ever before,” Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa said.
“I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and startup founders. We look forward to deepening our partnership with, and support for, Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs.”