Google announces first major African tech firm investment

December 17, 2021

Global internet giant Google announced its first investment into the African Investment Fund on Thursday, directed at Nigerian and Ugandan road safety venture SafeBoda.

Google's announcement is yet another instance of major global firms taking an interest in African tech solutions, with a mobile penetration that rivals most global regions. SafeBoda's investors already include GoVentures, Allianz X, Unbound, Beenext and Justin Kan. 

The Google investment into SafeBoda is expected to help drive SafeBoda's local growth and allow the transportation-led app to offer new payment and financial services solutions for its expanding set of customers. The Africa Investment Fund is part of a broader plan by Google to invest $1 billion over 5 years to support digital transformation in Africa.

SafeBoda was launched in 2017 and has since grown to serve over 1 million customers, expanding its transportation-led super app offering rides, parcel delivery, food and shop, payments, savings and other financial services. 

SafeBoda co-founder and former driver Ricky Rapa Thomson said the company was excited to continue to drive innovation in informal transportation and payments in East Africa and West Africa.

"As a former boda driver in Kampala, I know that we are the lifeblood of Africa's cities and we power economic development. SafeBoda is thrilled that leading global companies such as Google see the importance of backing start-ups working towards these goals," said Thomson.

Google's managing director in Africa Nitin Gajria the tech giant's $50 million investment Africa Investment Fund, first announced in October, was the beginning of Google's plans for sustained support of tech startups on the continent.

"This is part of our ongoing commitment to tech startups in Africa.  I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa's biggest problems than Africa's young developers and entrepreneurs. We look forward to announcing subsequent investments in other startups," said Gajria.

Google said in a statement Africa was home to 700 000 developers and venture capital funding for startups, which has decreased compared to 2019. The statement said Google hoped to drive a resurgence in developers and tech solutions in the continent to drive innovation, development and jobs.-fin24

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Last modified on Friday, 17 December 2021 13:38

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