Daily Trust (Abuja)

Africa: Microsoft Targets One Million Online SMEs in Africa

Lagos — Microsoft Corporation has launched an initiative to assist Africa to meet up with global competitiveness by putting about one million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the World Wide Web by 2016.

The initiative tagged 'Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative' according to the company is a new effort through which it will actively engage in Africa's economic development to improve its global competitiveness.

Microsoft General Manager for 4Afrika Initiative, Fernando de Sousa said at the official unveiling of the scheme in Lagos that the company also plans to help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youths by 2016.

Fernando de Sousa noted that the programme will also up-skill 100,000 members of Africa's existing workforce as well as helping an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability 75 percent of which Microsoft will help place in jobs.

He said, "The world has recognized 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. 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."

Fernando de Sousa explained that as a first critical 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.

He said the phone will initially be available in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa later this month.

Fernando de Sousa disclosed that 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.

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