Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
2 minute read
6 Oct 2021
5:44 pm

Google to invest over R15 billion in Africa’s digital transformation

Narissa Subramoney

'Africans were among the first to access the internet using a cellphone rather than a computer,' said Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Google says it already partners with Australian news media by paying them millions of dollars each year. AFP/File/Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced the tech giant plans to invest $1 billion (over R15 billion) into the African continent over the next five years.

The investment will cover a range of initiatives, from improving connectivity to investing in startups.

These investments will support the continent’s digital transformation in four key areas:

  • Enabling affordable access and building products for every kind of African user.
  • Helping businesses with their digital transformation.
  • Investing in entrepreneurs to spur next-generation technologies.
  • Supporting nonprofits working to improve lives across Africa.

“We know we can’t do this alone. We look forward to partnering with African governments, policymakers, educators, entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Pichai.

Pichai predicts that Africans will shape the next wave of innovation.

“Increasingly, we see innovation begins in Africa and then spread throughout the world,” he said.

Africans were among the first to access the internet using a cellphone rather than a computer. At the same time, mobile money was ubiquitous in Kenya before the world adopted it.

This momentum is expected to increase as 300 million people come online in Africa over the next five years.

“Many of them are young, creative and entrepreneurial, and they’re ready to drive innovation and opportunity across the region,” said Pichai.

Bridging the digital divide

Since opening the first offices in Africa, more than 100 million Africans have been able to access the internet for the first time.

That digital access empowered millions of local businesses and creators with digital tools.

“One thing we’ve seen is how technology can be a lifeline, whether you are a parent seeking information to keep your family healthy, a student learning virtually or an entrepreneur connecting with new customers and markets,” said Pichai.

Google CEO said he did not have much access to technology growing up. But with every new advancement, from the rotary phone to the television — changed his family’s life for the better.

“That’s why I’m a technology optimist. I believe in how people can harness it for good,” he said.

So far, Google has focused on expanding opportunities through digital skills.

In 2017, the tech giant committed to help 10 million Africans get the digital skills they need to grow their careers and businesses.

“So far, we’ve trained six million people. We’ve also trained 80,000 developers from every country in Africa and supported more than 80 startups to raise global venture capital funding, creating thousands of jobs,” said Pichai.

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