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Google to invest $1 billion in Africa to fuel digital transformation

The investment will be used to invest in startups and implement better connectivity through the Equiano subsea cable

Google is set to invest $1 billion in Africa over five years to help the continent undergo digital transformation.

The initiative will help African businesses with their digital transformation, invest in entrepreneurs to spur next-generation technology, and support non-profits to improve lives across the continent, said Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The tech giant has selected 50 African startups to receive mentoring, funding, and Google platform credits as part of its $3 million Black Founders Fund. On top of this, Google is also partnering with nonprofit Kiva to provide $10 million in business loans to assist thousands of SMEs recover from the pandemic in Africa.

Google has also created an African Investment Fund worth $50 million to invest in African startups, and help them create useful tools for their communities. The company has also set aside $40 million to support non-profits working to improve lives in Africa to support the work of African innovators and leaders, and will collaborate with Safaricom, a Kenyan telco, to help first-time users get affordable Android smartphones.

The company added that its Equiano subsea cable, which will connect Africa with Europe, is making progress on its branches landing in Nigeria, Namibia, St. Helena, and South Africa. Google said that the cable, named after writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, will provide approximately 20x more network capacity than the last cable built to serve the continent. It said this will lead to a 21% drop in internet prices as well as a five-fold increase in internet speed in Nigeria and almost triple in South Africa.

In September, Google announced its undersea cable connecting the US with Europe arrived in Cornwall. The fibre-optic network cable is around 6,000km long and is named after Grace Hopper, the computer science pioneer from the US. The cable runs from New York and splits to arrive in Bilbao, Spain, and Cornwall.

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