In a phone interview with Bloomberg Wednesday, the head of Google's South Africa office Luke McKend said the company is laying around 621 miles of fiber optic cable in Uganda, a move similar to what Facebook announced two weeks ago.
Fiber optic cable will help Google expand its existing efforts in the country — like internet training — that have been deterred by slow transmission rates and high data costs for the skyrocketing number of Africans who own smartphones. McKend says Google is already working on laying down a similar amount of cable in Ghana, and that the effort is part of a larger push into Africa that includes providing cheaper access to Android smartphones and training African workers in digital fluency.
Why it matters: Both Google and Facebook, facing saturated advertising markets in most of the word — particularly the U.S. — are looking to expand their reach into the African market and more importantly, get data from the roughly 30% of Africans that have access to the Internet. The first company to capture a sizable amount of digital audience data in Africa will be the first to be able to monetize usage in the continent.