Google to invest $1 billion in Africa

Google is to invest big in Africa.

It's pledged $1 billion over the next five years.

And wants to ensure access to faster and cheaper internet.

As well as backing startups fueling the continent's digital transformation.

The unit of U.S. tech company Alphabet made the announcement at a virtual event this week where it launched an Africa Investment Fund.

It plans to invest $50 million in startups, providing them with access to Google employees, network and technologies.

Google Africa director Nitin Gajria:

"We are specifically looking at fintech logistics, e-commerce, local language content but again we are not limiting ourselves to these verticals but we are really looking at this across a number of verticals. We are looking at areas that might have some strategic overlap with google and where google could potentially add value in partnering with some of these startups."

Small businesses in Africa often struggle to get capital because they lack the collateral required by banks in case they default.

In collaboration with not-for-profit organisation Kiva, Google will also provide $10 million in low interest loans to help smaller outfits and entrepreneurs.

With a focus on those in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Google said a programme pioneered last year in Kenya with Safaricom would be expended across the continent.

It allows customers to pay for 4G-enabled phones in instalments.

Gajria added that an undersea cable being built by Google to link Africa and Europe should come into service in the second half of next year.

Increasing internet speed and lowering data costs.

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