Google’s CEO: Africa on Brink of ‘Digital Transformation’

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, addressing the African Union Summit Business Forum Monday (Feb. 7), said the continent is moving toward a digital transformation.

He called Africa “increasingly a place where innovation begins.” He cited the development of mobile payment systems, first developed in Kenya, and renewable energy innovations currently being done there.

He praised the Summit’s leadership for “rapid economic growth”  in spite of the challenges.

Google, he says, has been partnering with African governments to help bring new tech to people.

He cited the company’s plans to invest $1 billion to support digital transformation in Africa, focused on expanding internet access and adding infrastructure.

In addition, Google has invested in African startups in areas such as transport and tourism, like SafeBoda, which connects passengers to trustworthy drivers, or Send, a logistics platform for moving cargo.

“At the core of all these initiatives is partnership. Success means working in close collaboration with African governments, the AU, UNECA and businesses in the digital ecosystem,” Pichai said. “We are committed to doing just that, to ensure every person in Africa can shape and share in the opportunities technology creates.”

Google’s Africa fund, in December, backed SafeBoda, a bike-hailing startup from Uganda, a report says.

Read more: Google’s Africa Investment Fund Backs Ugandan Bike-Hailing Startup Safeboda

That marks the first disbursement since Pichai launched the Africa Investment Fund in October.

The SafeBoda investment will help the company boost its transportation app across Uganda and Nigeria through new payment and financial services. It will also help expand passengers, drivers and merchants.

“SafeBoda welcomes Google to their community and are excited to continue to drive innovation in informal transportation and payments in the Boda Boda (motorcycle taxi driver in East Africa) or okada (West Africa) industry,” said Ricky Rapa Thomson, SafeBoda co-founder, in a Technext report.