Google pledges 1 Billion USD to boost Africa’s startups, internet, and SMEs

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  • 2 months ago
  • Posted: October 8, 2021 at 6:05 pm

Google, during the Google For Africa event, announced its pledge to invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years, covering a range of initiatives including a drive to improve connectivity, small business investment, and support digital transformation initiatives. CEO Sundar Pichai said Africa is an incubation of major innovation that increasingly begin in the continent, and then spread throughout the world, citing examples like Kenya’s startup Tambua Health that is using machine learning to help doctors diagnose and treat diseases, and mentioned entrepreneurs like Tunji in Lagos in 2017 whose company, Gidi Mobile, is helping low-income students in Nigeria access online learning. Pichai was confident that this momentum will continue, with an estimated 300 million people accessing the internet and going “online” over the next half a decade.

He noted that since Google opened its first office in Africa, it had enabled 100 million Africans to access the internet for the first time, while it has further worked to train developers, open an AI research center and build products specific to Africans’ needs, like Android Go. In 2018, the company opened an artificial intelligence research center in Accra. The team is now focused on solving challenges relevant to Africa and the world, like using AI to map buildings that are hard to detect using traditional tools and adding 200,000 kilometers of roads on Google Maps.

With its $1 billion pledge, Pichai said it is a huge stride towards making the internet accessible, affordable, and useful for every African. Google will put the cash towards projects across countries in the continent, including Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana, with a major portion of it going to a subsea cable across South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, and St Helena, connecting Africa and Europe. $50 million of the sum will be earmarked for the newly formed Africa Investment Fund, to help start-ups, providing access to Google employees, networks, and technologies. In addition, Google said it will distribute $10 million to low-interest loans to small businesses in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, helping to alleviate the impact of Covid-19. $40 million will go to non-profits in the region.

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