Contrary to what the Western world may think or be presented with, Africa is a continent that is developing rapidly and has enormous growth potential. The changes Africa is currently experiencing are enormous. The continent is home to 19 of the world’s 20 fastest-growing countries, and the internet economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion by 2025. By that year, more than half of Africa’s population will be under 25, increasing the need for economic growth and job opportunities even more.
For example, Google has been working for years to shape Africa’s digital transformation and increase Africans’ access to the internet. Google has had its own office in Africa since 2007.
Google’s first step began in 2005 with the laying of the Seacom cable to Africa. Since then, Google has been involved in, among other things:
- construction of the state-of-the-art Equiano submarine cable, which improves average internet speed and accessibility,
- connecting startups with resources and job seekers. In the past three years, Google has helped more than 90 African startups and more than 5,000 small businesses with financing, workspace and access to expert advisors,
- providing digital skills training to more than six million people.
The African future
Last year, Google’s CEO announced it would invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years, focused on the continent’s digital transformation. For example, Google has its own AI research center in Accra (Ghana), which is used for, among other things, mapping the population to predicting natural disasters (floods and locust plagues) and it will open its first Google Cloud region in Africa, with a Cloud interconnect site in Nairobi, the fastest growing city in the world.
In the meantime, existing Google products are also increasingly taking Africa into account. For example, Google recently added 10 African languages (with 165 million speakers), including Lingala, Bambara and Oromo, giving millions of people access to the Internet in their own language.
Of course, there is a large part of self-interest involved here: the more people use the Internet, the more advertisements can be sold. But these projects certainly also contribute to shaping, steering and further stimulating the rapid growth of this continent. After all, giving space to creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, and channeling the explosive increase in the population, is something that we all benefit from.