The announcement by Google that it plans to invest $1billion over 5 years to support Africa’s digital transformation is perhaps one of the best things that will happen to the continent in recent years. According to our sources, the investment will focus on enabling fast, affordable internet access to millions of African people. It will also focus on building helpful products, supporting entrepreneurship and small business and helping non-profit organizations to improve lives across Africa. The announcement was made Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, at a recent Google for Africa event that was live streamed.
The planned $1billion investment will enable millions of Africans afford internet access and also build helpful products for the people. In this regard, Google will be building global infrastructure to help bring faster internet to more African people at lower connectivity costs. The subsea cable Equiano will run through South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena and connect the continent with Europe. The announcement expands Google’s ongoing support for Africa’s digital transformation and entrepreneurship.
In 2017, Google launched its Grow with Google initiative with a commitment to train 10 million young Africans and small businesses in digital skills. Currently, Google has trained over 6 million people across 25 African countries, with over 60% of the participants consequently experiencing growth in their career or business. Google has also supported more than 50 non-profits organizations across Africa with over $16million of investment and enabled hundreds of millions of Africans to access internet services for the first time through Android.
Sundar Pichai said: “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 $US1 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, Managing Director for Google in Africa added: “I am so inspired by the innovative African tech startup scene. 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.”
Hon. Minister Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Small Business Development, South Africa said: “I am happy to note that Google has been active in supporting Small to Medium Enterprises, dedicating even more resources to this sector, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the last 12 months, Google has helped close to 500,000 African businesses get online and reach new customers.”
It is well that Google has taken these very impressive initiatives. But that may not be all there is to it. There will be need for Google to further diversify its investments in Africa. At the moment, less than 20% of African young-adults are internet savvy. And so it might be worth the while if Google invests on the education of young Africans who are computer illiterate by offering them scholarships or even opening free computer schools in the major urban areas across the continent to enable more of the youths get involved in the internet world.
Again, some of these African youths have a tendency to abuse their knowledge of the internet by using it for dubious purposes. We at Imo State Business Link Magazine make haste to ask: what modalities have been put in place to ensure that African youths who become computer literate do not abuse their new-found knowledge by involving themselves in cyber crimes using their new knowledge negatively to dupe people and organizations rather than help solve the numerous problems that face the world today.
This is very necessary, considering all the various conflicts that have continued to bedevil the African continent over the centuries. Google must take all these factors into consideration if these laudable projects must not turn around like Frankenstein to haunt their good intentions.