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Google opens applications for its Africa startup accelerator

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The tech giant Google has officially opened applications for its Google for Startups Accelerator Africa program's eighth cohort. Applications are open from April 29 to May 20.

Google has said this cohort will focus on startups leveraging AI and machine learning (ML) to address critical challenges and unlock new opportunities across the continent.

"Startups are the lifeblood of innovation, driving economic growth, creating jobs, and solving some of society's most pressing challenges," Google's statement said.

"In Africa, digital transformation is accelerating rapidly and startups play a vital role in shaping the continent's future, from fintech and agritech to healthcare and education," it continued.

Google for Startups

The Google for Startups Accelerator Africa is a three-month, equity-free virtual program that provides African startups with mentorship, technical resources and access to a global network of experts and investors.

"Since its inception in 2018, the program has supported 106 startups from 17 African countries and have collectively raised over $263 million and created more than 2,800 direct jobs," the company said.

The Accelerator Program will run from June to September 2024 and will include:

  • Equity-free support: up to US$350,000 in Google Cloud credits.

  • Mentorship: personalized guidance from Google AI experts, seasoned entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

  • Technical workshops: in-depth training on AI/ML development, product strategy and scaling.

  • Global network: connections to potential investors, partners and customers.

  • Community: a supportive network of fellow founders facing similar challenges and opportunities.

    "We're excited to support the next generation of African AI pioneers through the Google for Startups Accelerator, providing them with the resources and mentorship they need to build successful, impactful businesses," said Folarin Aiyegbusi, head of Startups Ecosystem, Africa at Google.

    Folarin Aiyegbusi, head of Startups Ecosystem, Africa at Google.   (Source: Google)
    Folarin Aiyegbusi, head of Startups Ecosystem, Africa at Google.
    (Source: Google)

    "Africa's tech ecosystem is a hotbed of innovation, and AI has the potential to be a transformative force across various sectors," Aiyegbusi said.

    Eligible startups must be based in Africa or building Africa-centric solutions and should be using AI/ML in a "transformative" way.

    Applications can be submitted here:

    Google's AI strategy

    Google has been investing heavily in AI innovation, including on the African continent.

    In February, it renamed its generative AI platform Bard as Gemini and released a dedicated Gemini mobile app with a paid-for subscription service.

    Earlier this year, Google released a study that found South Africans are showing major interest in AI, with Google searches related to AI topics increasing by 370% in 2023.

    Follow Connecting Africa on our new X account @connect__africa to get the latest telecoms and tech news across Africa.

    The survey also found that searches for AI reached an all-time high last year in South Africa and grew 650% over the last five years.

    Google's managing director for Africa, Alex Okosi, also recently spoke to Connecting Africa about Google's AI strategy in Africa, including its AI-powered search and how local businesses can harness the potential of AI.

    In August 2023, the company launched a startup accelerator program for Africa, aimed specifically at startups looking to use AI to solve local challenges.

    In 2021, meanwhile, it pledged to invest $1 billion over five years to support Africa's digital transformation through a range of initiatives.

    Related posts:

    *Top image source: Google

    Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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