US Internet giant, Google, is solidifying its dominance on the African continent with a new investment of R17 billion to improve its offerings to businesses and customers. The company announced that it is establishing a new Google Cloud region in South Africa. The new investment will allow for the localisation of applications and services.
According to Google, the new cloud region will among other things help users across Africa to choose where they would like to store data.
Dr. Alistair Mokoena is the Country Director for Google South Africa. He says, “Today, the big news is the launch of Google’s cloud region. We have had a cloud business in the continent for quite some time but now we are investing in a cloud region which means we will accelerate our cloud services. News around the cloud region is that businesses rely on cloud technology to digitally transform how they do business, they access our compute infrastructure, they access machine learning services from us, artificial intelligence and the whole digital skills as well as data analytics, they are able to work with big data and improve customer experience.”
Director of Google Cloud Africa, Nira Patel, says that this will contribute to GDP growth and job creation.
“We have commissioned a study through Alpha beta Economics and the study revealed that this cloud region will contribute around 2.1 billion dollars worth of South African GDP. In parallel — it will create 40 000 jobs by the year 2030.”
Google has recently brought Equiano subsea internet cable to Cape Town all the way from Portugal via Togo and Nigeria. This is expected to widen access to the internet on the African continent. It is expected that the landing of this internet cable in South Africa will make significant a economic contribution to South Africa’s economy.
Dr. Alistair Mokoena further states that “What the internet cable does, it travels internet speeds, it will reduce internet costs by about 20 percent or so. It will create about 180 000 indirect jobs over the next three years and the impact on the GDP will be about 0.32 percentage points.”
Meanwhile, Google has been making inroads in South Africa and continent-wide entrepreneurship support. Through its Black Founders Fund, the tech giant has set aside over 4 million US dollars to assist Black-owned Tech Start-up businesses.
One of the beneficiaries is Akiba Digital, co-founded by Kamogelo Kekana.
“When Black Founders Fund came on. It was a great enabler because we were looking at how to expand into the continent and it brought up exposure as far as networks within the continent as well. From January 2021 we were 3. We were about to close our business. We were out searching for funding. No one was hearing and fortunately, something just sparked. Looking at today, now we are 25 full-time employees.”
Furthermore — YouTube — a subsidiary of Google — has been offering a lucrative platform to content creators. The monetization of YouTube channels and the training provided have energized content creators to be more creative leading to job creation. Nelisiwe Mwase and Thato Rampedi are both content creators on YouTube.
“Starting from zero subscribers, it took us five years to get to about 850 000 subscribers. So we are on our road to a million. Your content is going to demand you to expand your business. So essentially, when you have a YouTube page, you have a mini business. My business currently has employed 8 people in a space of 5 years. I know to some people it sounds like it’s a few people but essentially if you think of it from this perspective, it’s 8 families,” Mwase explains.
Rampedi adds, “Luckily I was a part of the YouTube Black Voices Class of 2021 last year. So I got seen from YouTube, mentoring from YouTube and it taught me how to operate as a digital content creator but at the same time as a business.”
Google says if you genuinely love content creation, the tech giant offers plenty of opportunities, training and monetization of content. In a country where over 50 percent of the youth are unemployed. This presents an opportunity for the youth to use their smartphones to start earning an income. -Reporting by Mpumelelo Maphalala in Johannesburg.