Google said yesterday in a virtual event that it would spend $1 billion over the next five years; to enable more affordable and faster internet access in Africa and encourage entrepreneurship. Watch the video for full event coverage or read through like me! So, let’s dive right in.
Internet Dependability a Major Issue -Google
Internet dependability is an issue in Africa. The World Bank estimates that fewer than a third of the continent's 1.3 billion inhabitants have broadband access.
However, with almost half of its inhabitants under 18, the continent is a potential market. CEO of Google and Alphabet- Sundar Pichai stated that "significant advances" have been achieved recently. Still, more effort is required to make the internet "accessible, cheap, and helpful to every African."
The investment would facilitate digital transformation by enhancing connection and accessibility, he said in a statement.
The money will build infrastructure, notably the Equiano undersea cable connecting South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, and Saint Helena to Europe.
The agreement builds on Google's commitment to educating about ten million young Africans and small companies in digital skills four years ago.
"I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa's biggest problems than Africa's young developers and start-up founders," said Nitin Gajria -Google's Africa managing director.
He also mentioned that "When you think about our mission as a company, we talk about organising the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful,"
"We can't claim the 'universal' in our mission if we're not effectively serving the 1.3 billion people in Africa."
Gajria also said Africa had "300 million people online today and another 300 million expected to come online over five years".
"That's just incredibly exciting, in terms of an evolving tech landscape," Google's Africa managing director Nitin Gajria stated.
The affordability of smartphones also hampers African internet access. Google said it was partnering with Kenya's telecoms - Safaricom, on a scheme to launch affordable Android smartphones for first-time users. This will allow them to pay by instalments on cut-price Android devices.
The project, later on, spread out across the continent with other carriers such as Airtel, MTN, Orange and Vodacom.
The 50 Million Investment Plan
Additionally, Google's five-year commitment will involve a $50 million investment in African start-ups and an extension of its "plus codes" system, which facilitates delivery in places without numbered buildings.
"Think about the last time you ordered a taxi or needed to provide your physical address for a delivery” Mariam Abdullahi -Google Africa told a launch event on YouTube.
"For some, this is a relatively simple task and a luxury that's taken for granted. But for millions across the world who do not have street addresses, this task is incredibly difficult."
"Plus codes, which display locations as a combination of letters and numbers, are already being used across the Gambia's capital Banjul and are set to be rolled out in Kenya and South Africa" -Google.
Let us know what you think about this development!