The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), welcomed the team from Google West Africa at his office on Thursday, 7th of April, 2022.
The team was led by the Director of Google West Africa, Mrs. Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor.
The team visited the Honourable Minister to give him an update on the activities of Google in Nigeria and affirm their commitment to supporting the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria.
The Director commended the Honourable Minister for his efforts that have promoted Nigeria’s Digital Economy and increased its impact on all sectors of the economy. Mrs Ehimuan-Chiazor also informed the Honourable Minister that Google’s Office in Lagos serves all the countries in the West African sub-region. She updated the Minister on Google’s commitment to invest $1billion in Africa over the next 5 years, from October 2021.
The investment includes funding for the Equiano subsea cable.
The Equiano cable is expected to enable a five-fold increase in average Internet speeds in Nigeria and create 1.6million jobs. Equiano, whose name was inspired by a Nigerian, is being launched as it lands at different points on the continent, much like a road construction that is launched as construction progresses. According to the Director, Nigeria is a major landing point for the cable and the launch of this major milestone is expected to take place in April 2022.
The Director also informed the Minister of the Google’s support for the tech ecosystem in Nigeria through skills development programs and grants. For example, the Google Startup Accelerator program has benefited 82 startups, including some of the startups that are now the leading unicorns in Africa. About 6 million Nigerians have also benefited from other digital skills initiatives and the tartget is to reach 10 million Nigerians. About 30,000 citizens have participated in the Africa Developer Program and provision has been made for cash and non-cash grants of over $100 million.
Professor Pantami commended Google for their activities in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). He reminded them of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, towards improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria. The Honourable Minister also assured Google that the Federal Government will continue to promote regulations that support, rather than stifle, development and innovation.