Google announced plans on Wednesday to invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years in an effort to bolster internet access and to fund startups focused on the continent’s digital transformation.
The search engine giant, a unit of Alphabet Inc., launched the Africa Investment Fund, which will invest $50 million in startups and provide those companies with access to Google employees, its network and other technologies.
In partnership with the nonprofit organization Kiva, Google said it will provide $10 million in low-interest loans to help small business entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa get economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.
“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,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement Wednesday.
The announcement comes as Google works toward building an undersea cable link to Africa and Europe, which will bring faster internet access and reduce connectivity costs in countries like Nigeria and South Africa, Reuters reported.
Google’s other activities on the continent include partnering last year with Kenya-based company Safaricom to allow customers to purchase 4G-enabled phones in installments. That program is expected to be expanded across the continent, according to Reuters.