Google in partnership with Convergence Partners, International Finance Corporation, and Mitsui have committed $100 million to invest in an African broadband project called CSquared, a wholesale broadband infrastructure company. CSquared, is a broadband infrastructure company focused on building wholesale metro fibre optic networks and enabling internet access in Africa.

The partnership will support the underlying internet infrastructure in Africa which, in turn, opens up new markets for Google’s own online services across the continent.

Africa is home to more than a billion people and it is also the continent with the fastest growing population. However, only 16% of its people are connected to the Internet. The low internet connectivity and penetration leaves a huge population without access to new opportunities, information, online business and commerce, various political and social internet benefits, uptake of e-learning resources, and many more opportunities reliable internet usually offers.

Read: Life in No-Internet Cameroon

The partnership will combine technical knowledge and expertise in deploying and operating wholesale broadband infrastructure in Africa. The partners have extensive experience of active value adding and  investment in the ICT sector,  with over 40 years supporting the development of the telecommunications in Africa. The partners’ vast investment portfolio and global business presence, will significantly bolster the scale and resources of CSquared in its continued quest to grow access to the Internet across the entire sub-Saharan region.

In 2011, Google survey identified a major barrier to more affordable, reliable broadband in Africa: the lack of fibre optic networks in major cities. Project Link, an initiative to build world-class, high-speed urban fibre networks in Africa’s metropolises was mooted. In 2013, Google folded these efforts under a new company brand called CSquared with the aim of expanding access and lowering costs in Africa.

Read: Kenya’s internet speed ranked fastest in Africa

Marian Croak, Vice-President at Google said during the launch of the project in Nairobi, Kenya, “We believe that together under CSquared, we can get more done to roll-out and operate affordable, high-speed, and reliable infrastructure to expand internet access in Africa. Project Link has demonstrated the impact of shared wholesale infrastructure, and we’re excited to see CSquared bring more infrastructures to more service providers and their customers.”

CSquared is expected to bring faster, more reliable Internet to the people and places that need it in Africa. A pilot project Link with a metro fiber network was first built in the city of Kampala, Uganda, a dense urban center that was limited to pre-broadband speeds. The success of the Link made possible the expansion of CSquared project to Ghana, where over 1,000 kilometers of fiber have been installed in Accra, Tema and Kumasi, with exciting growth prospects.

Source Youtube: Google Project Link in Uganda

The poor internet connectivity in Africa hinders economic development

The vast potential of the Internet to lead to inclusive growth, political, and social and economic development is widely documented. Not only can the Internet be a key element in efforts to increase productivity and contribute to the overall growth of an economy, but it also help open up new markets.

However, many countries in Africa have been lagging behind, making it difficult for the region to achieve its economic potential. The partnership has the potential to address some of the prevailing internet penetration challenges, and it could help in attempts to close the digital divide.