Google will invest $1 billion in Africa in the next five years to enhance its internet connectivity and help startup companies get some financial backing, according to a CNET report on Wednesday (Oct. 6).
The search platform announced an Africa Investment Fund that will give startups access to its employees and technology during the Google for Africa event, the report said. Google is also teaming with nonprofit Kiva to offer $10 million in low-interest loans for small businesses in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
“Increasingly, we are seeing innovation begin in Africa, and then spread throughout the world. For example, people in Africa were among the first to access the internet through a phone rather than a computer,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during the virtual event. “And mobile money was ubiquitous in Kenya before it was adopted by the world. This momentum will only increase as 300 million people come online in Africa over the next five years.”
More than half of Africa’s population (57%, according to data from U.K.-based The Fintech Times) do not have a traditional bank account, but many of its 100 million people are connected digitally and are excited about adopting digital innovation.
Matt Madrigal, VP/GM of merchant shopping at Google, recently told PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster that the company will use Google Lens image recognition tech and Google’s Shopping Graph database to track some 24 billion listings from millions of merchants to improve discovering and buying.
Google “available near me” searches have grown globally by more than 100% in the past year, Madrigal told Webster, adding that the company recently enhanced Google Lens functionality so that “you’ll be able to select a new in-stock filter to see only stores that have a specific product you’re looking for on their shelves” to help consumers find new stores and give small businesses better display options.