The African Development Bank (AfDB) and Google LLC have strengthened their partnership to grow Africa’s burgeoning digital economy with the signing of a Letter of Intent during the Global Africa Business Initiative at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Analysts estimate that Africa’s digital economy is valued at $115 billion and project that it will grow to about $712 billion by 2050.
The latest pact between the AfDB and Google LLC highlights the shared commitment of both organizations to harness emerging technologies, enhance infrastructure, refine talent and skills on the continent, and promote digital evolution.
Speaking on the pact, the AfDB’s President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, recalled that the bank had invested about $1.9 billion in projects aimed at developing broadband infrastructure, creating a conducive policy and regulatory environment, nurturing digital skills, and supporting innovative technology start-ups.over the past decade.
According to him, the journey from a mere 2% telephony penetration in 1998 to today’s era of 4G, 5G, and AI, signifying tremendous progress underscored the bank’s commitment to catalyzing businesses to generate jobs and offer innovative solutions, particularly given that 70% of sub-Saharan Africans are under 30 years old.
Similarly, the development finance bank noted Google’s investment in the Seacom cable, a significant submarine telecommunications cable, back in 2005, adding that the global firm has been steadfast in supporting talent development, innovation, infrastructure, and regulatory advancements across the continent.
The AfDB’s chief outlined the collaborative efforts between AfDB and Google, with Google providing technical assistance to empower entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in digitizing their businesses, accessing financing, mastering digital marketing, and advancing private sector development.
In his remarks, Google’s Senior Vice President of Research, Technology, and Society, Dr. James Manyika, spoke on the potential of advanced technologies like AI, to Africa’s economy, which suggested that the most profound transformation was yet to be witnessed in the continent.
While stressing the importance of collaboration to seize the emerging opportunities from technologies, ensuring that progress benefits everyone and leaves no one behind, Manyika expressed his excitement about his firm’s collaboration with the AfDB to work toward their shared agenda of digitally transforming the African economy.