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Google to invest $1 billion in Africa over five years

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(Last Updated On: October 8, 2021)

Google plans to invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years to ensure access to fast and cheaper internet and will back startups to support the continent’s digital transformation, Reuters reported.

The unit of U.S. tech company Alphabet Inc made the announcement at a virtual event where it launched an Africa Investment Fund, through which it will invest $50 million in startups, providing them with access to its employees, network and technologies.

“We are specifically looking at fintech logistics, e-commerce, local language content but again we are not limiting ourselves to these verticals but we are really looking at this across a number of verticals. We are looking at areas that might have some strategic overlap with google and where google could potentially add value in partnering with some of these startups,” said Nitin Gajria, the managing director for Google in Africa

According to the report in collaboration with not-for-profit organisation Kiva, Google will also provide $10 million in low interest loans to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa so they can get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19.

Small businesses in Africa often struggle to get capital because they lack the necessary collateral required by banks in case they default. When credit is available, interest rates are usually too high.

Google said a programme pioneered last year in Kenya in partnership with Safaricom that allows customers to pay for 4G-enabled phones in instalments would be expanded across the continent with mobile operators such as MTN, Orange and Vodacom.

Gajria said an undersea cable being built by Google to link Africa and Europe should come into service in the second half of next year and is expected to increase internet speed and lower data costs, Reuters reported.

“We are expecting a 21 percent reduction in data cost, we are expecting 3-5 times faster internet speed in South Africa and Nigeria, as an example. We are also expecting job creation about 1.7 million jobs to be generated across South Africa and Nigeria through both directly in the digital sector, but also in the peripheral sectors.” Nitin Gajria said.

The team also launched the project ‘Cradle of Creativity’ under the Google arts and culture product to promote African ancient and contemporary art works digitally.

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Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build ‘metaverse’

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

Facebook Inc (FB.O) plans to hire 10,000 in the European Union over the next five years, the social media giant said on Monday, to help build the so-called metaverse – a nascent online world where people exist and communicate in shared virtual spaces, Reuters reported.

This would be a significant step the company is taking towards the concept, something top boss Mark Zuckerberg has touted in recent months.

According to the report in September, Facebook committed $50 million towards building the metaverse, where companies like Roblox Corp (RBLX.N) and “Fortnite” maker Epic Games have an early foothold.

The company earlier launched a test of a new virtual-reality remote work app where users of the company’s Oculus Quest 2 headsets can hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves, read the report.

Facebook also said in July it was creating a product team to work on the metaverse which would be part of Facebook Reality Labs, its augmented reality and virtual reality group, Reuters reported.

“This investment (in new jobs) is a vote of confidence in the strength of the European tech industry and the potential of European tech talent,” the company said.

“Europe is hugely important to Facebook.”

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NASA probe will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)
NASA launched a first-of-its kind mission on Saturday to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets. Matthew Larotonda reports.
 
NASA launched a new space probe on Saturday (October 16) morning in a special 12-year mission designed to visit more asteroids than ever before.

It focuses on the Trojan asteroids, which are two large clumps of space rocks orbiting the sun. One floats ahead of Jupiter and the other behind it.

Scientists believe the rocks are leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

The probe is called “Lucy” and NASA hopes it will help us learn more about our solar system’s history.

The asteroids are also rich in carbon compounds, and may provide insights into organic materials and life on Earth.

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Nokia to release upgraded version of its classic 6310 ‘brick phone’

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

Nokia releasing an upgraded version of its classic 6310 “brick phone” to mark 20 years since the first original model was released.

The Finnish telecommunications company HMD Global, makers of Nokia devices, said the new version would have the original shape of the classic 6310 with a long battery life.

“The new Nokia 6310 has a host of new features including bigger buttons, zoomed-in menus, a wireless FM radio, and more…all packaged in the iconic shape of the original Nokia 6310,” the Nokia tweeted.

Meanwhile, the long battery life and tough “brick” design remain in place, Nokia said.

But some specifications have been altered for the new model – such as a camera and more memory have also been added to the updated version of the original 6310.

Moreover, the device still features the popular, low-tech game Snake.

The original Nokia 6310 model went on sale in March 2001 and quickly became one of the most popular devices in the world.

The device became popular for its tough “brick” design and long-lasting battery.

Nokia has announced that the new 6310 will first be available for customers in the UK at a cost of £59.99 ($82), news agencies reported.

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