Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, a three-year initiative to harness power of innovation among young people in Africa is a move to give other multi - nationals an opportunity to increase their presence in Africa.
It doesn't matter if the initiative will benefit Microsoft partners or their competitors, what matters is increasing the size of the pie to build ICT economies in African countries.
In the long run, Microsoft believes when the tide raises all the boats will benefit since they will have worked hard enough to develop capacity of local and international interest.
Since its launch, Microsoft partners have developed an interest on the 4Afrika Initiative, Gustavo Fuchs, Director Windows Phone Division at Microsoft says these will generate a solid business results in the long term.
Fuchs points out one of the partners, Huawei Technologies was chosen to this Initiative because of the company's tendency to provide very aggressive price points on their mobile devices; one of the things Microsoft looks at carefully when partnering with mobile device manufacturers. The ability to also provide a high level of customization of the device also comes in because the device has to be locally relevant for a user to experience the additional benefit.
"If you consider the African continent where we have an average of 10% - 15% mobile penetration, and because most people can't afford mobile devices, the continent still has a long way to go", says Fuchs. Most Africa is middle class and have feature phones. The reason for this is that technology companies haven't shown consumers the real benefit of having smartphones.
Therefore looking at the Huawei's collaboration to create differentiating content, for instance, the storage store concept lures consumers in appreciating these technologies. Huawei is currently the latest partner to enter into the Windows 8 Phone ecosystem after Nokia, HTC and Samsung.
Fuchs says Huawei Technologies has been a mobile player for a while. They are also in telecommunication infrastructure business, a partnership that Microsoft would also love to leverage that side of the partnership.
4frika Initiative came 21 years after Microsoft opened its first office in South Africa in 1992. Since then, the company wanted to take their service a step further and decided to invest on more long-term goals. These brought up the 4Afrika Initiative commitment.
Under this Initiative, Microsoft are committed to bringing a million smartphones into the continent and train more than 200, 000 people.The initiative has some central themes i.e. building expandable and sustainable businesses in Africa by strengthening their knowledge economies. "How do we make sure that ICT represents the bigger share in the GDPs of these economies?" asks Fuchs.
"All this is to increase Africa competitiveness in the world," Fuchs continues. He compares the continent to small European countries that export their technology. For example Finland hubs the company that produces "Angry birds", and on a daily basis no one thinks Angry birds is from a Finnish company, it's a global brand.