Tech giant Google on Wednesday announced her intentions to invest $ 1 billion in Africa with an aim to boost the continent’s internet access and startup scene.
Specifically, Google eyes the youthful market of Africa that is armed with smartphones but is being held back by internet access. Hence the idea of Google’s Equiano undersea internet cable to connect Africa and Europe with an aim of revamping Africa’s high speed internet connections.
“When you think about our mission as a company, we talk about organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful,” said Google’s Africa chief Nitin Gajria while speaking to media as he went on to say, “We can’t claim the ‘universal’ in our mission if we’re not effectively serving the 1.3 billion people in Africa.”
While making an analysis of Africa’s population that uses the internet, Gajria said “300 million people online today and another 300 million expected to come online over the next five years…that’s just incredibly exciting, in terms of an evolving tech landscape.”
The plan which was first announced in 2019 aims at constructing a cable that will run from South Africa, to Namibia through Nigeria to the Atlantic island of St Helena. From Google’s estimation, the project shall influence a 21% drop in the internet prices plus a five-fold increase in connection speed in Nigeria with an almost triple increase in South Africa.
Aside from the internet connectivity, Google observed another limitation to internet access in Africa is affordability to smartphones. Therefore, to address this challenge, Google will partner with Kenya’s telecommunication giant Safaricom.
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In this partnership, clients will be granted the opportunity to pay installments on cut-price Android devices and with time, the project will be rolled out across the continent for networks such as Airtel, MTN, Orange and Vodacom.
Another of Google’s five-year investment plan is the $50 million investment in African start-ups and an expansion of its “plus codes” system which supports deliveries in locations that don’t have numbered addresses.
“Think about the last time you ordered a taxi or needed to provide your physical address for delivery…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,” Google Africa’s Mariam Abdullahi told a launch event on YouTube.