Global technology giant Google has announced to invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years to ensure access to fast and cheaper internet. The investment will also back startups to support the continent’s digital transformation.
The announcement by Google came during a virtual event where the tech major launched an Africa Investment Fund, through which it will invest $50 million in startups. Under the proposed plan the company will provide African start-ups access to its employees, network and technologies.
The new programme will be launched in collaboration with the not-for-profit organisation Kiva. Google also plans to provide $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.
“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,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet said.
According to Google, the programme pioneered last year in Kenya in partnership with Safaricom and allows customers to pay for 4G-enabled phones in instalments. This will now be expanded across the continent with mobile operators such as MTN, Orange and Vodacom.
The company has been building an undersea cable to link Africa and Europe, which it says will bring faster internet and lower connectivity costs.