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Inside Alphabet’s Africa Push

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Aug. 16 2017, Updated 8:15 p.m. ET

Google training 10 million Africans

Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google is making an aggressive push into Africa as it pursues new growth opportunities in emerging markets (EEM). Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, recently visited Nigeria and reaffirmed the company’s commitments to Africa.

While in Nigeria, Pichai noted that Google would increase its funding to African startups. As part of its Digital Skills for Africa initiative, Google would train 10 million Africans in Internet skills over the next five years. The company also pledged $20 million in grants to African digital nonprofit organizations.

Google also plans to roll out modified versions of popular products such as YouTube and Google Maps for Africa. This initiative is intended to ease the pain for users on a continent where Internet access can be slow or too costly for the average person.

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Opening market for Google products

What Google is trying to do in Africa is open the market for its products, allowing it to reap the benefits of Africa’s promising digital economy. Alphabet doesn’t break out its African sales but reports them under its EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) segment. Sales in this segment rose 21% to $8.5 billion in 2Q17, as shown in the chart above.

Google’s EMEA growth was slower than 23% in the US (SPY), 28% in the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region, and 31% in Other Americas (Canada and Latin America). However, it is one of the most promising regions in terms of growth opportunity due to the underpenetrated Africa.

The race to Africa

Google is not the only US technology giant trying to dominate Africa’s technology market. Facebook (FB), Netflix (NFLX), Uber, and eBay (EBAY) have also sought to expand their footprints in Africa.

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