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Google to Start Funding African Startups

CEO Sundar Pichai said his company will invest $1 billion in Africa over five years to build a subsea internet cable to support non-profits, and fund businesses. The cable, named Equiano after the Nigeria-born 18th-century abolitionist, has been in the works since 2019 when it was first announced. It will connect Africa to Europe and increase Google’s global internet infrastructure. Google is “making tremendous progress” on constructing the branches of Equiano that will land in Nigeria, Namibia, St. Helena, and South Africa, according to Nitin Gajria, the company’s managing director for Africa. When completed, the cable will “provide approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve Africa” and reduce internet prices by 21%, Gajria said. Equiano is one of two subsea internet cable projects by Big Tech companies in Africa, in addition to Facebook’s 2Africa which was expanded this month to cover 26 countries. But Google is getting into a space that Facebook hasn’t entered yet: directly funding African startups with venture capital.  The fund will seek out startups “solving real challenges in Africa,” he said. It’s a subjective definition that will become clear when Google starts getting mentioned in African startup funding announcements.