Google today announced a plan to invest up to $1 billion in both grants and investment in African startups and initiatives over the next three years, bringing its combined investment on the continent to $1.2 billion since 2015. With the push, Google said it wants to be a stronger partner to young African entrepreneurs and “help to catalyze their development,” as the company declared in a blog post, by investing in mentorship, bringing in local product experts, and developing local partnerships. It also plans to launch a new Launchpad program, making it easier for smaller African companies to make their way to Google’s product teams.
Among the startups Google highlighted was African Startup Lab, an organization that organizes and guides the development of African startups; and iYAHOO, which aims to create a better job database for Africa’s youth. A full list of the initiatives includes African Vocational Education Centres, the CB2 accelerator in Dakar, Senegal; and Dataia, a London-based accelerator that works with Nigerian academics to develop software that can boost digital inclusion for women.
A decade in, Africa is still seen as an “opportunity” by the West. Many consumers and corporates are actively seeking to get involved in the continent’s tech start-ups. As such, Google’s investments will be a crucial step forward to the company’s ambitions in the continent. From 2018, many of the companies in Google’s portfolio have been working with the company to expand their operations and promote the benefits of online platforms for African businesses and citizens. For example, Google invested $2 million in Kenya’s Safaricom, the majority shareholder of the Jumia Group, and launched e-learning solutions in 15 African countries.
The aggressive growth in Africa’s young tech sector last year can be seen as an indicator of the real impact some of these startups could have on their respective markets. Just this week, it was announced that Accenture, an international consulting firm, and iYAHOO are taking their user data-based innovations to Ghana, to create digital-driven initiatives designed to deliver better public services. Startups have made that possible, these partnerships are a sign of the wider possible impact of the continent’s digital economy.
Read the full post at Google here.
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