FILE PHOTO: Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, waves after speaking on artificial intelligence during a Bruegel think tank conference in Brussels, Belgium January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

GOOGLE said on Monday (13) it will invest $10 billion in India over the next five to seven years as it battles rivals like Facebook and Amazon in the vast market of 1.3 billion consumers.

Chief executive Sunder Pichai told a virtual Google in India event that its fund would help “accelerate India’s digital economy” and will include investing in local firms and infrastructure in areas like digital payments, education and health.

“There’s no question we are facing a difficult moment today, in India and around the world. The dual challenges to our health and to our economies have forced us to rethink how we work and how we live,” Pichai said.

“But times of challenge can lead to incredible moments of innovation,”

Indian-born Pichai said according to a transcript of his remarks released by the US search engine giant.

Foreign firms have spent tens of billions of dollars in India in recent years as they fight for a piece of the Asian giant’s burgeoning digital economy.

This has included only this year around $16 billion in investments from Facebook, Intel and others in stakes in the digital services unit of Jio, controlled by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

Pichai on Monday briefed prime minister Narendra Modi on his plans, but a government statement suggested that Modi also expressed concerns about data security and privacy.

Modi “said that tech companies need to put in efforts to bridge the trust deficit,” the statement said.

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