nallen1_TONY KARUMBAAFP via Getty Images_africa internet TONY KARUMBAAFP via Getty Images

Why US Tech Giants Need Africa

While Big Tech companies are investing heavily in Africa, their poor track record on disinformation and privacy, and their lack of interest in fostering partnerships with African companies, is limiting their prospects. To win over African policymakers and citizens, US-based tech firms must show they take local interests seriously.

WASHINGTON, DC/NAIROBI – Last year, Google’s Equiano undersea cable began conveying terabytes of data per second to and from African shores. Valued at $1 billion, Equiano stretches from Western Europe to South Africa and has 20 times the capacity of the previous cables that served the continent. According to Google projections, the new cable has the potential to transform Africa’s economy by creating millions of jobs, reducing data costs by nearly 20%, and enabling a fivefold increase in internet speeds.

Other prominent US-based tech companies are also investing heavily in Africa. Amazon is in the midst of constructing its African headquarters in South Africa, while Microsoft recently launched an initiative to bring internet access to 100 million Africans by 2025. Meanwhile, Meta (formerly Facebook) is building 2Africa, an undersea cable expected to be the world’s longest when it is completed in 2024.

The impetus for these investments is the growing recognition that the future of America’s technology industry hinges on expanding its African customer base. Today, a little over a third of Africa’s 1.4 billion people use the internet, representing a small fraction of the world’s internet users. But the continent’s population is projected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050 – one-quarter of the global total. The vast majority of Africans are expected to become internet users by then, offering tech companies opportunities that no other region can match.

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