New territory

What does the Google-Airtel alliance mean for Africa?

By Joël Té-Léssia Assoko

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Posted on February 4, 2022 11:09

Firefox_Screenshot_2022-02-01T16-23-45.240Z Airtel advertisement, in Libreville, July 2018. © Jacques Torregano for JA
Airtel advertisement, in Libreville, July 2018. © Jacques Torregano for JA

The agreement between US giant Google and Airtel, the first Indian mobile telephone operator, marks its indirect entry into the shareholding of Airtel Africa and opens the way for developing new smartphone access offers, a sector dominated in Africa by Chinese players, who still risk being subject to US sanctions and a technological blockade.

In a joint statement published on 28 January, the Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel (present in 14 African countries) and the US telecoms giant Google announced a “multi-year and long-term” partnership.

The agreement, made through the $10bn Google India Digitalisation Fund and launched in July 2020, focuses on the large Asian market.

In detail, it includes a $700m investment to acquire 1.28% of Bharti Airtel and up to $300m that “will go towards implementing commercial agreements.”

Last October, Google, which has been led by Indo-American entrepreneur Sundar Pichai since 2015, said it would invest $1bn over five years “to support the continent’s digital transformation.”

Smartphones, a sector with great potential

Although the first part of the agreement with Airtel only indirectly concerns the continent, it does mark the US colossus’ symbolic entry into the shareholding of one of the

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