Through a Black Founders Fund, Google will invest in black-led startups in Africa by providing cash awards and hands-on support. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
- The first ‘Google for Africa’ event was launched virtually on Wednesday.
- CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company will invest $1 billion (about R15 billion) in Africa over a five year period.
- The landing of the subsea cable Equiano, which will enable faster internet speeds and lower connectivity costs, will form part of the investment.
Google plans to invest $1 billion (about R15 billion) over five years to support digital transformation in Africa, its CEO Sundar Pichai announced at the first Google for Africa event held virtually on Wednesday.
The investment focuses on enabling fast, affordable internet access for more Africans, building helpful products, supporting entrepreneurship and small business, and helping non-profit organisations to improve lives across the continent.
The landing of the subsea cable Equiano, which will enable faster internet speeds and lower connectivity costs, will form part of the investment. The sub-sea cable will run through South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena and connect the continent with Europe. The investment will also provide low-interest loans to help small businesses and equity investments in African startups, Google said in a statement.
According to Google, since 2017, it has trained six million young Africans and businesses in digital skills. Google has also supported more than 50 non-profits across Africa with over $16 million in grants.
Since internet access is hampered by the affordability of smartphones, Google says it has enabled 100 million Africans to access internet services for the first time through its operating system Android. For example, Google has collaborated with Kenya’s largest carrier Safaricom to launch the first “device financing” plan in that country.
It will expand this initiative across the continent in conjunction with partners which include MTN and Vodacom.
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 the company says has already helped more than 80 African startups.
Google also announced the launch of an Africa Investment Fund through which it 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.
According to Nitin Gajria, managing director for Google in Africa, the last year has seen more investment rounds into tech startups than ever before.
“We look forward to deepening our partnership with, and support for, Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Gajria.