Google invests $1 billion in digital economy across Africa

Google has announced a major investment in the rapidly expanding digital economy across Africa.

On Thursday, the company revealed plans to put $1 billion into a slew of projects in the continent, doubling down on its commitment to digitize Africa.

“Throughout Africa, we have been amazed by the entrepreneurial spirit and optimism of the people who own and run small businesses, which are often the backbone of most African economies,” Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post. “We are partnering with companies that are driving change by using new technologies to be innovative, better serve their customers, and boost productivity, creating more jobs and opportunities.”

The announcement underscores a commitment Google has made to Africa. In 2017, the company acquired a majority stake in Kenyan tech company Flutterwave, which launched a platform aimed at improving the e-commerce ecosystem in Kenya. And this week, it launched a $30 million fund to invest in African startups.

In addition to funding startups, Google also plans to help local businesses transition to the digital economy. In Kenya, where more than 50 percent of the population is under 25 years old, about 70 percent of businesses have no website. Many businesses have also had to struggle with various social media and online regulations as well as high paper costs. “Our vision of a digitally enabled Africa — where citizens are empowered to lead better lives with ease — needs sustained investment,” Pichai wrote.

Google is not alone in making big investments in the digital economy. Over the past six months, Facebook has acquired Kenyan businesses Samwel and SHK, rebranded its mobile messaging app from WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger, and teamed up with South African bank Standard Bank to build a local app.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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