Google Awards $4.4 Million for Greater Internet Access Across Africa

The money will go to two groups that are working to get Internet access to more people around the world.

Google's philanthropic arm,, is presenting $4.4 million to two groups that will use the funds to get some 1 billion people who don't have Internet access today connected in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The effort continues the company's work to help bring access to people in countries around the world where Internet access is difficult to get, according to a Feb. 25 post by Jennifer Haroon of on The Official Blog.

"People are constantly finding new ways to use the Internet to address our biggest challenges: global education, health care, clean water, effective government," wrote Haroon. "But we've only scratched the surface on the potential of the Web. Today, 5 billion people still don't have access to the Internet and the opportunity it provides."

To work toward closing that gap and to help bring the next billion people online, is presenting $3.1 million to the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) and another $1.3 million to the Internet Society (ISOC) for projects that will help accomplish those goals.

The money to the NSRC will be used to bring local network engineering expertise to universities and national research and education networks (NRENs) across Sub-Saharan Africa, including labs and a train-the-trainers program. The NSRC will provide hands-on training on campus network planning, deployment and management for over 600 university and NREN staff, and will bring the Internet to students and staff at over 50 institutions, wrote Haroon.

The money to the ISOC will be used to improve and create Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) that allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to work together locally, which can lower costs, promote competition and provide better service for users in emerging markets, wrote Haroon. Under the program, the ISOC will create a toolkit for those who want to create and improve IXPs and build an industry portal to share IXP information and data.
"Some of the brightest minds are working to improve lives in new ways through the Internet," wrote Haroon. "By supporting the work of NSRC and ISOC, we can make sure that those opportunities are available to more people in more parts of the world." has already been active in similar programs in the past to spread Internet access around the world. "In Sub-Saharan Africa, we've created programs such as Google Apps Supporting Programs for Education, offered technical assistance such as caches for Internet providers, and generated ideas to build Internet capacity," she wrote.

Google made a $3.7 million donation to two groups in the United States in January to foster open government data standards to make information easier to use and more available to citizens. awarded $2.1 million to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, and $1.6 million to mySociety, a U.K.-based group.

The donation to the Sunlight Foundation is aimed at helping the group grow their programs for open government data, with a focus on making civic information for U.S. cities transparent, available and usable. The donation to mySociety is aimed at building a global platform to equip developers with tools and resources—such as open-source code—to more easily and quickly launch new civic apps and services.

The money is meant to foster the open availability of information so that people can be better informed.

Earlier in February, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and a group of other philanthropists helped create and fund a new awards program, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, that offers five $3 million prizes annually to researchers who make innovations in life sciences research around the world to fight stubborn human diseases.