Google said on Wednesday that it will invest $1 billion over the next five years to improve internet access in Africa and boost entrepreneurship.
According to the World Bank, Internet reliability is a concern in Africa, where only about a third of the continent’s 1.3 billion inhabitants have broadband access.
However, with over half of the population under the age of 18, the continent represents a prospective market.
“Huge strides” have been made in recent years, according to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, but more work is needed to make “internet accessible, affordable, and beneficial for every African.”
He stated in a statement that the investment will help with digital transformation by improving connectivity and access.
The cash will be used to fund infrastructure projects such as the Equiano subsea cable, which will link South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, and St Helena to Europe.
The deal expands Google’s pledge announced four years ago to train around 10 million young Africans and small-scale businesses in digital skills.
“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,” said Google’s Africa managing director Nitin Gajria.
Internet access is also hampered by the affordability of smartphones.
Google said it will partner with Kenya’s telecoms giant Safaricom to launch affordable Android smartphones for first-time users.
The project will later be rolled out across the continent with other carriers such as Airtel, MTN, Orange and Vodacom.
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