Google's announcement of a $10 billion investment in India comes at a crucial time, given the likely gap that the government's ban on Chinese technology firms is likely to create in the country’s tech investment ecosystem.
Tech-giant Google on Monday, 13th July 2020, announced its plans to invest $10 billion in India over the next 5-7 years via equity investments, partnerships and other arrangements to “accelerate digitisation” in the country.
How will Google invest from the $10-billion fund?
Google said its $10-billion fund would focus on enabling affordable access to the Internet and to information for every Indian in their own language; building new products and services in segments like consumer tech, education, health and agriculture; empowering businesses, especially small and medium ones, to transform digitally; leveraging technology and artificial intelligence for digital literacy, outbreak predictions, and support for rural economies.
The investments will be made through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, operations, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. These include Google’s existing projects, such as Internet Saathi for spreading awareness of the Internet in rural villages and an AI-based flood forecasting system, among others.
Is this a reaction to India's curbs on Chinese tech companies?
While it is possible that the fund may have been in the works before the clampdown on Chinese tech companies, the development presents an opportunity for tech giants like Google to grow their share in India’s large internet pie.
For big technology companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter, which are already prohibited from doing business in China, the new ban on Chinese tech companies in India could provide better prospects for American tech giants to strengthen their position in a market which has the second-most Internet users in the world.
How does this announcement figure in big-tech’s outlook on India?
Google’s investment plan is in line with big-tech’s bullish outlook on India. Earlier this year, Amazon said it would invest an additional $1 billion in India. This was followed by a marquee investment announcement of $5.7 billion by Facebook in the country’s largest telecom company Reliance Jio. Last month, Microsoft’s venture fund M12 said it would open an office in India to pursue investment opportunities focusing on B2B software startups.
In a nutshell, in spite of the ban on Chinese tech companies, the future looks bright for India's tech ecosystem and digital inclusion in India. Furthermore, this buttresses the need for African governments to champion investment and strategic protection operations in the tech industries of their countries, so as to attract global-scale tech investments like India is doing currently.