Kathy Gibson was at Google for Africa – Google has committed to invest $1-billion in Africa over the next five years.

Making the announcement, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, says the funds will be used for initiatives ranging from improving connectivity to supporting startups.

It will help to offer affordable access to SMEs building new products; will help businesses with their digital transformation; will be used to increase investment in entrepreneurs; and will support non-profit organisations.

“There is so much momentum happening in Africa,” Pichai says.

“There are also significant challenges, with the pandemic continuing to deeply impact communities on the continent. But we have seen how technology can be a lifeline.

“Being helpful in these moments is at the core of our mission to organise the world’s information and make it useful.”

Pinchai identifies himself as a technology optimist. “”I believe in how people can harness it for good.

“And there are so many examples of this in Africa. We have seen so many innovations begin in Africa and then spread throughout the world. For instance, Africa was the first place where people accessed the internet via a mobile phone; and mobile money was ubiquitous in Kenya before it took off anywhere else.

“It has been incredible to see such rapid change in such a short space of time. Since we opened our first office in Africa, Google has enabled 100-million Africans to access the Internet for the first time, and we have had a big focus on expanding opportunities through digital skills.”

Nitin Gajria, MD: sub-Saharan Africa at Google, adds that 330-million African will come online for the first time in the next few years.

To help make this a rich experience, Google is investing in the Equiano subsea cable that will connect Africa to Europe.

“Equiano will provide 20-times the network capacity than the last cable built to serve Africa,” Gajria says. “This will lead to lower internet prices and increased speed.

“This access should indirectly create 1,7-million new jobs in South Africa and Nigeria.”