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Google to invest $1bn in Africa, plans subsea cable landing for 2022

07 October 2021 | Saf Malik

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Google will be investing US$1 billion over the next five years to support digital transformation across Africa.

The plans will include landing a subsea cable into the continent for faster internet speeds, equity investments into African start-ups, and even low interest loans for small businesses. Currently, less than a third of the continent is connected to the internet according to figures from World Bank.

The subsea cable will link African and Europe and is expected to come into service in the second half of next year. Google says internet speeds will increase by five times and data costs could be lowered by as much as 21% in countries such as South Africa and Nigeria.

The news comes after Google confirmed its Grace Hopper subsea cable had landed in Bude, Cornwall last month.

The plans to introduce another subsea cable in Africa were announced at an event led by Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

“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,” he said.

“Today I’m excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation, to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups.”

Additionally, the company says it will disburse $10 million in low-interest rate loans to small businesses in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to ease the problems brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Google says that it will be teaming with non-profit organisation Kiva and the company has pledged $40 million to non-profits on the continent.

Explaining the move, Google’s Africa managing director Nitin Gajria said: "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.”

In recent times, Google has made its commitment to Africa well known. In 2017 the company launched the Grow with Google scheme which pledged to offer digital skill courses to 10 million young Africans and small businesses.