Google will also provide 10 million dollars in low-interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa so they can get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19.
Google has announced that it plans to invest 1 billion US dollars in Africa over the next five years to ensure access to fast and cheaper internet.
According to a statement released on Wednesday, the tech giant committed to also back startups to support the continent’s digital transformation.
Some of the countries that stand to benefit include Kenya, where it has previously partnered with Safaricom PLC in a pilot program pioneered in 2020.
“Google has collaborated with Kenya’s largest carrier Safaricom to support the launch of the first “Device Financing” plan in Kenya and will expand this initiative across Africa with partners like Airtel, MKOPA, MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom, and more,” read a statement from s press release shared with various media.
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“These partnerships will help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones,” it added.
The unit of U.S. tech company Alphabet Inc made the announcement at a virtual event where it launched an Africa Investment Fund, through which it will invest 50 million dollars in startups, providing them with access to its employees, network, and technologies.
Nitin Gajria, managing director for Google in Africa said in an interview that the company would among others, target startups focusing on fintech, e-commerce, and local language content.
“We are looking at areas that may have some strategic overlap with Google and where Google could potentially add value in partnering with some of these startups,” Gajria said.
In collaboration with not-for-profit organization Kiva, Google will also provide 10 million dollars in low-interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa so they can get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19.
Small businesses in Africa often struggle to get capital because they lack the necessary collateral required by banks in case they default. When credit is available, interest rates are usually too high.
Gajria said an undersea cable being built by Google to link Africa and Europe should come into service in the second half of next year and is expected to increase internet speeds by five times and lower data costs by up to 21 percent in countries like South Africa and Nigeria.