“Closing the digital divide in Latin America is key to an inclusive recovery”

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The IX Summit of the Americas closed with the expected political controversies. With more or less comfortable axes and traveling companions, one of the great announcements of the event came from Google with its commitment to invest 1.2 billion dollars in Latin America.

The investment will be broken down into a five-year plan aimed at driving economic development in the region through digital transformation. A way to show your support, in a convincing way, when the money from the venture capital begins to run out, at least temporarily.

The announcement covers a variety of initiatives in four key areas: infrastructure, digital skills development, entrepreneurial ecosystem, and inclusive and sustainable communities.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Googlenever lets go of his humble origins in India, a country where technology plays a prominent role: “I always thought that technology is a great enabler and has a unique ability to help people access new opportunities”.

“The digital transformation can bring a lot to Latin America, a region where the pandemic hit very hard and where closing the digital divide is key to an inclusive recovery,” he adds.

1,200 million investment with nuances

Google is committed to concrete actions in the next five years. Among them, the launch of the Firmina submarine cable by 2023; increase the number of engineers on its team in Brazil, where since 2005 they have had their engineering center for Latin America, in Belo Horizonte; u award one million scholarships for Google Career Certificates, to increase and promote digital talent.

In addition, the company will also speed up payments with the launch of Google Wallet, the digital wallet that will be available in Chile and Brazil in the coming monthsan action that will be extended to the entire region;

It has also announced a investment of 300 million dollars by Google.org which will be divided between support for NGOs and initiatives to promote women. This amount has an important nuance: 50 million will be in contributions in the form of money and the other 250 will be advertising credits.

Google considers that with these actions it will be able to laying the foundations for the region to prosper. In the case of the Firmina cable, for example, it fits with previous actions in the same direction.

As to Google Cloud, its cloud storage, already have centers in São Paulo (Brazil) and Santiago de Chile (Chile). as well as a data center in Quilicuraalso this last country.

Firmina is expected to be operational in 2023 and to connect North and South America across the Atlantic. Something that, according to Google, will not only improve the quality of its own services, from mail to the cloud, advertisements and video, but also those provided to other companies and products on-line.

Silicon Valley and Washington are getting closer

The fact that Google announces these measures in Los Angeles, during a political summit, indicates a return to closeness with Washington. A form of resume the previous relationship with the administration of Barack Obama, also a Democrat like that of Bidenwho was vice president then, after cooling off during Trump’s four-year term.

Training in this case is also aligned with political interests. It’s not only seen as a way to help recruit talent for tech companies opening in Latin America, but also as a commitment to technical careers without the need to go to universitysomething still prohibitive in Latam.

In this sense, Freddy Vega, co-founder and CEO of Platzi, pioneers in education on-linewas one of the speakers at the summit.

Under the ‘Grow with Google’ program, more than eight million people have already signed up since 2017. The impulse that is being sought now is to be able to grant ‘Google Career Certificates’ to a million more, with more depth, so that it is considered as a recognition and serves as access to the formal world of work.

Startups as a driver of change

Through Google for Startups, where Paco Solsona has played a relevant role with a first campus in Brazil in 2016 and later with a boost from Mexico, they have managed to 13 of the 35 unicorns in Latin America have undergone their training.

Google considers that they have played a relevant role in the rain of millions of investment they have received. In 2022 the region registered a record of 15,300 million dollars of venture capital for startups. Among the prominent names are Ualá, Ripio, ComparaOnline and TiendaNube.

Google calculates that the support provided to 450 startups have created more than 25,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

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