Google to Push India’s Digitization with $1B Investment

As part of the “Google for India Digitization Fund” launched in 2020, Google will provide affordable access to smartphones to more than a billion Indians and speed up the use of cloud-based computing for business in partnership with India’s global communications solutions provider Bharti Airtel, and has announced up to $1 billion investment for that purpose.

As the country works to adopt digital education, payments, and e-commerce amid the pandemic, Google’s investment will help India’s small businesses adopt digital tools.

The US tech giant is to acquire a 1.28% stake in Bharti Airtel, for which it’ll pay $700 million, in equity investment at a price of 734 rupees ($9.77) per share, which instantly raised Airtel shares’ value up 0.54%.

The equity investment, which comes months after Bharti Airtel raised up to 210 billion rupees through shares sale to existing shareholders, is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

Google has also allocated up to $300 million for commercial agreements, including investments in scaling Bharti Airtel’s offerings, over the next five years in India, where Google’s services are accessed by over 100 million users.

The two companies also plan to jointly develop software for 5G and other standards, Bharti Airtel – which has over 480 million customers in 17 countries across South Asia and Africa – said on Friday.

According to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Inc’s Google, the digitization project will focus on empowering businesses for their “digital transformation” as well as on building products relevant to India’s needs.

Pichai pointed out in a digital keynote at a Google for India event that Google’s goal is to ensure that India not only benefits from the next innovation wave but also leads it.”

Google has previously faced legal troubles with India’s Competition Commission which claims that the US tech giant is abusing its Android system’s dominant position in the Smart TV market by obliging users to install Google’s apps since the makers of Smart TVs have no alternative to Android.

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