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Investing in Africa's Digital Transformation

With its young, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial population, the continent has the potential to reap far-reaching rewards through digitization and adoption of new technologies. But additional, well-targeted investments will be needed to support African innovation and bring more Africans online.

MOUNTAIN VIEW – A few years ago, I was in Lagos to see Alphabet’s digital skills programs at work. There was excitement for the future of technology in Africa and all the jobs and opportunities it could bring. From jobseekers learning new skills to entrepreneurs building promising new apps and businesses, the people I met were deeply inspiring.

These people were on my mind again when I addressed regional leaders at the African Union’s annual Business Forum this week. Although the continent is facing big challenges – from the ongoing pandemic to a difficult economic recovery – it also has plenty of reasons for optimism, led by its engineers, developers, and entrepreneurs.

Africa is increasingly a place where innovation begins. There were more investment rounds for African tech start-ups last year than ever before. People everywhere now use mobile payment systems first developed in Kenya. Renewable energy solutions created in Africa are shaping a more sustainable future for us all. And thanks to the internet, African businesses can reach markets all over the world, while also providing solutions to Africa’s – and the world’s – most pressing challenges.

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