The developing world represents the best chance of growth for large internet companies, and today one of the very biggest set out its strategy for how it plans to tackle that.

Google said that it would be investing $1 billion to support “digital transformation” across Africa. This will include landing a subsea cable into the continent to enable faster internet speeds, low-interest loans for small businesses, equity investments into African startups, skills training and more.

The plans are being unveiled today at an event led by Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai — putting the most senior executive at the company at the top of the event being a mark of the priority that the company is placing on the bet it’s making here.

“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,” said Google CEO, Sundar Pichai.

Google said it will inject the investment over the next five years, in projects to be implemented in countries across the continent including Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana.

The subsea cable will cut across South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena, connecting Africa and Europe. The subsea cable will provide approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve Africa, Managing Director for Google in Africa, Nitin Gajria said.

“This will lead to a 21 percent reduction in internet prices and increase internet speed in Nigeria and almost triple in South Africa,” said Gajria.

It is projected to create about 1.7 million jobs in Nigeria and South Africa by 2025 as the digital economy grows.

Google also announced the launch of the Africa Investment Fund, where it will invest $50M in start-ups across the continent and provide them with “with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build meaningful products for their communities.”

The company said it will also disburse $10M in low-interest loans to small businesses in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, to alleviate hardships brought by the Covid pandemic. This will be done in partnership with Kiva, a San-Francisco based non-profit lending organization. It pledged $40M to non-profits improving lives in Africa.

“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. 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,” said Gajria.


We’ll continue to update this post with more information as the event proceeds. Please refresh the page to read more.

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