Google Ramps Up Investment in Fiber Optic Cable, Training Africans

Google is laying 621 miles of fiber optic cable in Uganda to help expand its existing efforts in the country — like internet training — that have been deterred by slow transmission rates and high data costs for the skyrocketing number of Africans who own smartphones.

“We laid about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of fiber in Uganda and we are busy doing about 1,000 kilometers in Ghana,’’ Google’s South Africa head Luke McKend said in a phone interview. “We want to make sure that we cover all the bases. We want to train people and make sure that they have the devices and are able to connect to the internet.’’

About 1 million people in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have been trained by Google over the past year, yet many had to complete their courses with limited internet access due to unreliable coverage and high data prices, McKend said.

Both Google and Facebook, facing saturated advertising markets are looking to expand their reach into the African market and more importantly, get data from the roughly 30% of Africans that have access to the Internet. The first company to capture a sizable amount of digital audience data in Africa will be the first to be able to monetize usage in the continent.

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