Microsoft Corporation has announced the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, aimed at boosting economic development in Nigeria and other African countries with a view to improving its global competitiveness.
Announcing the initiative, in Lagos recently, Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Onyeje, said Microsoft would invest over N12 billion in the initiative.
According to him, Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative would help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth, and bring one million African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) online, and as well increase members of Africa's existing workforce by 100, 000.
He said the initiative would also help an additional 100, 000 fresh graduates to develop skills for employability and that Microsoft would provide jobs for over 75 per cent of the graduates after the skill development programme.
"The world has recognised the promise of Africa, and Microsoft wants to invest in that promise. We want to empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers and business and civic leaders to turn great ideas into a reality that can help their community, their country, the Continent, and beyond," said General Manager, Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, Fernando de Sousa.
"The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative is built on the dual beliefs that technology can accelerate growth for Africa, and Africa can also accelerate technology for the world."
As a first step toward increasing the adoption of smart devices, Microsoft and Huawei are introducing the Huawei 4Afrika, a full functionality Windows Phone 8 which will come pre-loaded with select applications designed for Africa. The phone will initially be available in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa later this month.
The Huawei 4Afrika phone, which is the first in what will be a series of smart devices designed "4Afrika," will be targeted toward university students, developers and first-time smart phone users to ensure they have affordable access to best-in-class technology to enable them to connect, collaborate, and access markets and opportunities online.
To improve technology access, Microsoft also announced the deployment of a pilot project with the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications and Kenyan Internet Service Provider, Indigo Telecom Limited, to deliver low-cost, high-speed, wireless broadband and create new opportunities for commerce, education, healthcare, and delivery of government services across Kenya. The deployment is called "Mawingu," which is Kiswahili for cloud. It is the first deployment of solar-powered base stations together with TV white spaces, a technology partially developed by Microsoft Research, to deliver high-speed Internet access to areas currently lacking even basic electricity.
Microsoft said it hoped to implement similar pilots in East and Southern Africa in the coming months to further explore the commercial feasibility of white space technologies. These pilots will be used to encourage other African countries to accelerate legislation that would enable the white spaces technology to deliver on the promise of universal access for the African continent.