‘Cut internet prices by 21%, create 1.7m jobs’ — Google announces $1bn investment in Africa

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Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, has announced an investment of $1 billion in Africa over the next five years.

Speaking at the first-ever Google for Africa virtual summit on Wednesday, Pichai said the investment was to support Africa’s digital transformation.“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,” Pichai said.“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.”

Nitin Gajria, the managing director for Google in Africa, said the company was building a subsea internet cable connecting Europe and Africa. The cable is named after Nigerian abolitionist, Olaudah Equiano.“Research tells us that for every 10% increase in broadband penetration, GDP increases by 1.4%, and in five years, 300 million Africans will come online for the very first time,” Gajria said.“Google is invested in building our global infrastructure to bring everyone online; this includes Equiano, state of the art subsea cable that would connect Africa with Europe. We are already making tremendous progress on branches landing in Nigeria, Namibia, St. Helena, and South Africa.”

Gajria said the subsea cable will increase Nigeria’s internet speed by fivefold while cutting prices by 21 percent.“Equiano will provide approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve Africa,” he added.“This will lead to a 21 percent drop in internet prices as well as a fivefold and increase internet speed in Nigeria and almost triple in South Africa.”He projected that this will create about 1.7 million jobs in Nigeria and South Africa by 2025 as the digital economy grows.

The tech giant also announced soft loans to help small businesses in Africa grow and recover from the coronavirus-induced pandemic.The company also launched an Africa Investment Fund, which will invest $50 million in startups, granting them access to its employees, network and technologies.

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