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WATCH: Google Cloud to contribute $2.1bn towards SA GDP

Tech giant Google has announced its intent to establish a Google Cloud region in South Africa, the first on the continent.

Google revealed the initiative during the second Google for Africa event on Tuesday, and is the latest example of how the company is delivering on the $1bn investment commitment made last year by CEO, Sundar Pichai.

SA joining Google Cloud’s global network

South Africa will be joining Google Cloud’s global network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide.

Niral Patel, Director of Google Cloud Africa, said establish a Google Cloud region is era defining for Africa’s digital transformation.

He said the new Cloud Region will help users, developers, businesses and educational institutions across Africa to move more information and tools online, improve access options for customers and in turn, create jobs.

SA GDP and jobs

“We commissioned the studies through AlphaBeta Economics and their study has estimated this Cloud Region will contribute USD 2.1 billion toward the South African GDP and in parallel created more than 40 000 jobs by the year 2030.”

“I think all of us here today can agree that job creation to the success of South Africa is absolutely crucial. We know some of the challenges and if we can continue to partner with private and public organisations to foster and build skills in this regard, we’ll make a significant difference to the future of our country,” Patel said.  

Network expansion

Patel said along with the cloud region, Google is expanding its network through the Equiano subsea cable and building Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi.

“In doing so, we are building full scale Cloud capability for Africa.”

Google Cloud is already working with customers across the continent – helping them solve business -critical challenges, get online and access the benefits of digital technology.

In South Africa, Google Cloud works with leading retailer TakeAlot to help their three million local customers enjoy a hassle-free online shopping experience.

TakeAlot built its e-commerce platform on Google Cloud, which has enabled the business to avoid system crashes during high-traffic periods like Black Friday.

Importance of technology   

Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Philly Mapulane who also joined event virtually said technology has a significant role to play in eradicating poverty, reducing unemployment and inequality.

“Our National Development Plan 2030 calls for stimulating growth in the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector and innovation by driving public and private ICT investment, especially in network upgrades and expansion.”

“Google’s recent efforts in this regard have been particularly encouraging.  The Equiano cable landed in Cape Town recently, and the improved speed and reduced internet costs that this can deliver has the potential to drive much fuller Internet participation for many more South Africans,” Mapulane said.

Earlier this year, Google announced plans to open its first African product development centre in Nairobi to develop and build better products for Africans and the world.

Voice typing  

Google also announced the launch of voice typing support for nine more African languages in Gboard, the Google keyboard (isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Kinyarwanda, Northern Sotho, Swati, Sesotho, Tswana,Tshivenda and Xitsonga) – while 24 new languages are now supported on Google Translate, including Lingala, which is used by more than 45 million people across Central Africa.

Maps

To make Maps more useful, Google also refreshed Street View in Kenya, South Africa, Senegal and Nigeria with nearly three hundred thousand kilometres of imagery.

This helps people virtually explore and navigate neighbourhoods on Google Maps. They are also extending the service to Rwanda, meaning that Street View is now available in 11 African countries.

Entrepreneurs

Google said Africa’s internet economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion by 2025 – 5.2% of the continent’s GDP.

“To support African entrepreneurs in growing and developing their talent, Google continues to support African small businesses through the Hustle Academy and Google Business Profiles, and to help job seekers learn the skills they need through Developer Scholarships and Career Certifications.”

Nitin Gajria, Managing Director, Google Africa added the company is collaborating with governments, policymakers, NGOs, telcos, business leaders, creators and media so that it can help accelerate Africa’s digital transformation.

“And it’s the talent and drive of the individuals in the countries and communities of Africa that will power Africa’s economic growth.”

Milestones

Google, through its $50 million Africa Investment Fund that targets equity investments in tech startups, has since invested in three businesses over the past 9 months – SafeBoda, a transportation app in Uganda and Nigeria, Carry1st, a South African mobile gaming startup and Lori Systems, an e- logistics company based in Kenya.

Milestones achieved include the subsea cable, Equiano, now running through Togo, Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa, which is expected to deliver faster, lower cost internet to the continent by connecting St. Helena, Togo, Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa with Europe.

Equiano subsea cable

A recent economic impact assessment conducted by Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics found that by 2025, the cable is set to accelerate economic growth with GDPs of Nigeria rising by USD 10.1 billion, South Africa USD 7 billion and USD 260 million in Namibia.

During the same time, Equiano should indirectly create 1.6 million jobs in Nigeria, 180 000 in South Africa and 21 000 in Namibia, driven by the expansion of the digital economy and peripheral sectors.

Recently Google partnered with the United Nations to launch the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI), a global partnership aiming to accelerate Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development.

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