In its efforts to improve internet access across Africa, Google announced that it would invest $1 Billion in the startup scene, as the tech giant eyes a youthful market increasingly armed with smartphones.
The investment, which will be spread out over five years, will go toward Google’s Equiano underwater cable, a major private infrastructure project aimed at improving Africa’s high-speed connections.
“When you think about our mission as a company, we talk about organising the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful,” Google‘s Africa chief Nitin Gajria told AFP.
Gajria said Africa had “300 million people online today and another 300 million expected to come online over the next over the next five years”.
“That’s just incredibly exciting, in terms of an evolving tech landscape,” he said.
According to Gajria, Google’s Equiano undersea broadband cable, which connects Africa and Europe, is projected to be operational by the second part of 2022. It was first revealed in 2019 and is named after Olaudah Equiano, an anti-slavery activist and 18th-century playwright. South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, and the Atlantic island of St Helena will all be served by the network.
According to Google, the project will result in a 21% decrease in internet pricing, as well as a five-fold increase in connection speed in Nigeria and a nearly three-fold rise in connection speed in South Africa.
Gajria wouldn’t disclose how much of Google’s $1 billion is going toward the cable, but he did call it “a significant investment.”
Google didn’t disclose how much of the $1 billion is going towards the cable
Project Taara, one of the company’s “moonshot” ideas, was said to have successfully used light beams to deliver a high-speed connection between Kinshasa and Brazzaville.
The two cities are located just across the Congo river from one another. However, due to the depth of the river, laying fibre-optic cables between them has proven impractical, making web access in Kinshasa much more expensive.
The affordability of smartphones is also a barrier to African internet access, and Google announced a partnership with Kenya’s telecoms giant Safaricom on a scheme that will allow users to pay in instalments for low-cost Android devices.
Google’s five-year investment will also include a $50 million investment in African start-ups and an expansion of its “plus codes” system, which aids deliveries in cities where buildings are not numbered.
“Think about the last time you ordered a taxi or had to provide your physical address for a delivery,” Google Africa’s Mariam Abdullahi said at a YouTube launch event.
“For some, this is a simple task and a luxury that they take for granted. However, for millions of people around the world who do not have street addresses, this task is extremely difficult.”
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is an avid Sports and Tech enthusiast. He loves to keep up to date with all the latest information and research on some of the most compelling stories.