That technology is an engine for human progress is no longer in question. Everywhere you look and in every sector, there is a level of technology at play. Even the mobile phone you hold in your hand is a technological device that has come and made life a whole lot easier for everyone. Technology holds significant benefits for humanity and digital technology can be an indispensable tool for growth of businesses around the world.
Towards expansion of the communication and the digital space in Africa, Google has announced a plan to invest $5B in the next 5 years to support digital transformation in the continent. The investment is geared to among other things, faster internet speeds and lower cost of connectivity. These are gateways for enabling entrepreneurs and small businesses to take advantage of the digital space, and for nonprofits to better improve lives across Africa.
Along with fast affordable internet, affordability of gadgets is a major frontier in inclusivity. Google has collaborated with Kenya’s largest carrier Safaricom to support the launch of the first “Device Financing” plan in Kenya, and will expand this initiative across Africa with partners like Airtel, MKOPA, MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom, and more. These partnerships will help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones.
Google is also building helpful products to boost businesses. For instance, those of us with easy access to maps may take that for granted but there are thousands of people without street addresses. Google has developed Plus Codes – a free and open source addressing system to provide addresses for everyone. Plus Codes are already in operation in the capital city of Zambia Banjul and will expand to other parts of the country as well as Kenya and South Africa.
Additionally, through a Black Founders Fund, Google will invest in Black-led startups in Africa by providing cash awards and hands-on support. This is in addition to Google’s existing support through the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa, which has helped more than 80 African startups with equity-free finance, working space and access to expert advisors over the last three years. Google also announced the launch of an Africa Investment Fund. Through this fund, the company will invest $50M in startups and provide them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build meaningful products for their communities.
In collaboration with the non-profit organisation Kiva, Google is providing $10M 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.
Google.org is expanding its commitment to support nonprofits working to improve lives across Africa, with $40M to help more partners who are responding to challenges they see first-hand in their communities – innovators like the Airqo team at Makerere University, who use AI and sensors to monitor poor air quality, a leading cause of premature death. Google is providing $3M in new grant funding to expand this pioneering work from Kampala across 10 cities in 5 countries on the continent.
Google is also providing a platform for African cultural treasures and collections. In collaboration with the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art in Nigeria and the Origins Centre in South Africa, people across the globe can explore more than five hundred high resolution images, sixty expertly-curated stories with audio narrations, as well as Street View virtual tours, helping to showcase Africa’s creative talent and heritage . You can visit the project at g.co/google4africa21