Google will spend US$1-billion (about R15-billion) over the next five years on infrastructure development, skills development and other digital initiatives in Africa, CEO Sundar Pichai said on Wednesday.
At the first Google for Africa event, Pichai said the earmarked investment includes the high-capacity Equiano cable (no doubt the bulk of the earmarked investment), a new subsea system that will connect South Africa and Europe along the continent’s west coast. Deployment of that cable system has already started.
Other initiatives announced by Pichai on Tuesday include low-interest loans to help small businesses, equity investments in African start-ups and ramped-up investment in digital skills training.
Google will also offer a device-locking technology as part of Android that will allow financing partners to offer financed devices to consumers, reducing the upfront cost of access to smartphones, which is often prohibitively high for people living on the continent.
“Google has collaborated with Safaricom to support the launch of the first ‘device financing’ plan in Kenya and will expand this initiative across Africa with partners such as Airtel, MKOPA, MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom, and more,” Google said in a statement.
“These partnerships will help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones.”
Black Founders Fund
Then, through the Black Founders Fund, Google will invest in black-led start-ups 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 start-ups with equity-free finance, working space and access to expert advisors over the last three years,” the company said.
Google also announced the launch of the Africa Investment Fund. Through this fund, it will invest $50-million in start-ups and provide them with access to Google employees, networks and technologies.
It is also providing $10-million 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. And Google.org will support non-profits 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. — © 2021 NewsCentral Media