Technology giant, Google has announced $1bn investment plans to support startups and cheaper internet in Nigeria and other African countries.
The US tech company, Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), said the investment would span five years.
According to the company, the investment will lead to a 21 per cent drop in internet prices.
Also, it revealed that internet speed in Nigeria and other African countries will increase following its investment.
Google made the announcement during a Google for Africa virtual event on Wednesday.
Giving the announcement, Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, said the $1b investment is to support “digital transformation” across Africa.
According to him, “We’ve made huge strides together over the past decade — but there’s more work to do to make the internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African.
“Today I’m excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation, to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups.”
He said Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana are among the African countries to benefit from the investment.
Also speaking, Managing Director for Google in Africa, Nitin Gajria, said the investment will target startups focusing on fintech.
He also said that the investment will target 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.”
“Google remains committed to being helpful to every African business, person and classroom.
“Google is investing in building our global infrastructure to help bring everyone online.
“This includes Equiano, a state-of-the-art subsea cable that will connect Africa with Europe.
“We are already making tremendous progress on the construction of branches landing in Nigeria, Namibia, St Helena, and South Africa.
“Named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian born writer and abolitionist, Equiano will provide approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last capable built to serve Africa.
“This will lead to a 21 per cent drop in internet prices, as well as a five-fold increase in internet speed in Nigeria, and almost triple in South Africa.”
According to the company, the investment will bring significant growth in the digital economy of Nigeria and South Africa.
Specifically, the company said the investment will likely create about 1.7 million jobs in Nigeria and South Africa by 2025.
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Similarly, the company announced a $10 million in low-interest loans to small businesses in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.
According to Google, the loans will help alleviate hardships caused by the COVID pandemic.
Google will execute this through collaboration with a a San-Francisco-based nonprofit lending organization, Kiva.
The partnership will see Google provide $10 million in low interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
With the loans, small businesses in Africa that often find it difficult to get loans from banks for lack of collaterals will have ease of doing business.
The company also said that it would expand a programme it pioneered last year in Kenya in partnership with Safaricom.
According to Gajria, “I am so inspired by the innovative African tech startup scene.”
He added saying thus:
“In the last year we have seen more investment rounds into tech startups than ever before.
“I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and startup founders.
“We look forward to deepening our partnership with, and support for, Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs.”
The programme allows customers to pay for 4G-enabled phones in instalments.
Among the mobile operators to form the partnership to execute the programme are MTN, Orange and Vodacom.
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% in countries like South Africa and Nigeria.