Google plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years to ensure access to fast and cheap internet in Africa and will support startups to support the continent’s digital transformation, it said on Wednesday.
The unit of US 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 in startups, giving them access to their employees, networks and technologies.
Google’s managing director in Africa Nitin Gajaria told Reuters in a virtual interview that the company will target startups focusing on fintech, e-commerce and vernacular content, among others.
“We are looking at areas that may have some strategic overlap with Google and where Google could potentially add value in partnership with some of these startups,” Gajaria said.
In collaboration with non-profit organization Kiva, Google will also provide $10 million in low interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19 .
Small businesses in Africa often struggle to obtain capital because they lack the necessary collateral required by banks in the event of a default. When credit is available, interest rates are usually very high.
Google said it was pioneering a program in partnership with Safaricom in Kenya last year that allows customers to pay for 4G-enabled phones in installments, which can be shared with mobile operators such as MTN, Orange and Vodacom across the continent. will be expanded in.
Gajaria said an undersea cable being built by Google to connect Africa and Europe should come into service in the second half of next year, and countries like South Africa could see internet speeds five times and data costs down by up to 21%. are supposed to. Nigeria.