The investment focuses on enabling fast, affordable internet access for more Africans; building helpful products; supporting entrepreneurship and small business and helping non-profits to improve lives across Africa.
The announcement was made at Google’s first ever Google for Africa event, held virtually and livestreamed. The planned $1billion investment was announced by Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google and Alphabet.
According to Pichai, Google is building global infrastructure to help bring faster internet to more people and lower connectivity costs. The subsea cable Equiano will run through South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena and connect the continent with Europe.
Google has collaborated with Kenya’s largest carrier Safaricom to support the launch of the first “Device Financing” plan in Kenya, and will expand this initiative across Africa with partners like Airtel, MTN, Orange, Transsion Holdings and Vodacom, and more. These partnerships will help millions of first-time smartphone users gain access to quality, affordable Android smartphones.
Google is also coming out with Plus Codes, a free and open source addressing system to provide addresses for everyone.
He announced that through a Black Founders Fund, Google will invest in Black-led start-ups in Africa by providing cash awards and hands-on support.
This is in addition to Google’s existing support through the Google for Start-ups Accelerator Africa, which has helped more than 80 African start-ups with equity-free finance, working space and access to expert advisors over the last three years. Google also announced the launch of an Africa Investment Fund.
Through this fund, the company will invest $50 million in start-ups and provide them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build meaningful products for their communities.
In collaboration with the non-profit organisation Kiva, Google is providing $10 million in low-interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19.
Google.org is expanding its commitment to support non-profits working to improve lives across Africa, with $40M to help more partners who are responding to challenges they see first-hand in their communities – innovators like the Airqo team at Makerere University, who use AI and sensors to monitor poor air quality, a leading cause of premature death. Google is providing $3 million in new grant funding to expand this pioneering work from Kampala across 10 cities in 5 countries on the continent.
Abuja-Kaduna train resumes operation Saturday – NRC
Barely 24 hours after suspending the Abuja-Kaduna trains for safety reasons, the Nigerian Railway Corporation says the services will resume Saturday October 23.
The suspension followed an explosion attack by hoodlums on the Abuja-Kaduna rail track Wednesday evening, which the corporation said affected the locomotive tank of a Kaduna-bound train.
Although there have been conflicting accounts of the attack with some attributing it to bandit or terrorist attack, the Managing Director of the corporation said in an interview on Friday night that the NRC team of engineers and technicians had fixed the problem and was certified that the train service could resume on the route after carrying out extensive an inspection of the line.
The NRC also said in a statement issued Friday evening that the Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) would “resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am.”
The statement read in part, “The board and management of the Nigerian railway corporation (NRC) hereby inform the general public, particularly our valued passengers that Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am. Subsequent train services continue.
“The NRC once again sincerely apologises for the inconvenience.”
Motorists, travellers stranded as Delta bridge collapses
There was confusion in part of Delta State on Friday following the collapse of the Umutu Bridge in the Ukwuani Local Government Area of the state, leaving several motorists and travellers on the Agbor-Abraka-Eku road stranded.
The incident reportedly occurred in the early hours of the day, adding that the aged long bridge gave way as a Trailer conveying heavy duty construction bulldozer was passing through it towards the Agbor axis of the state.
The deplorable condition of federal road has been on the news, with report of the road project already awarded for reconstruction by the federal government.
The road link many communities in the state and connect the people with other parts of the country, particularly Northern and South-East states.
Deputy Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Ochor Christopher Ochor who hails from the area, regretted that the federal government had not given such an important road the desired attention.
Ochor who spoke to our Correspondent, described the collapsed of the bridge as unfortunate and sympathized with stranded motorists and travelers for the pains it may have caused them.
He said he had already contacted the Commissioner for Work in charge of Urban and Highways roads in the State, Mr Neol Omodion, who has promised to take necessary steps to address the ugly situation.
Ochor however stressed the need to beef up security in the area to protect the lives and properties of the stranded travelers, calling on the federal government to reconstruct the road due to its strategic position to the socio economic development of the area.
W/Bank: Higher inflation ahead as oil price hits $86/barrel
The World Bank Group says a higher global inflation rate is ahead, noting the current oil price rise may continue into 2022, after recording 80 per cent higher this year than what it was in 2020.
The latest Commodity Markets Outlook released on Thursday reported the global lender as saying higher oil prices were also impacting food security in some countries already.
This came as Brent Crude prices hit $86.10 per barrel early on Thursday, jumping to the highest level in three years, before retreating to just above $85 amid profit-taking.
Experts said the reluctance of OPEC+ to pump more in the short term suggests that oil prices will remain well supported for the remainder of this year.
Although Nigeria has set a $57 per barrel benchmark for the 2022 budget, it is expected to produce 1.88 million barrels per day while targeting N3.16 trillion from oil proceeds.
The World Bank outlook indicated that energy prices soared in the third quarter of 2021 and are expected to remain elevated in 2022, adding to global inflationary pressures and potentially shifting economic growth to energy-exporting countries from energy-importing ones.
“Energy prices, expected to average more than 80% higher in 2021 compared to last year, will remain at high levels in 2022 but will start to decline in the second half of the year as supply constraints ease.”
The global bank however feared that non-energy prices, including agriculture and metals, are projected to decrease in 2022, following strong gains this year.
Chief Economist and Director of the World Bank’s Prospects Group, Ayhan Kose, said, “The surge in energy prices poses significant near-term risks to global inflation and, if sustained, could also weigh on growth in energy-importing countries.”
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