Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Microsoft in bid to help 1 million small businesses go online in Africa

Microsoft, the American software giants, said its aim is to turn the potential that young Africans have and plans to help Small and Medium Enterprises to adopt technology at a minimal cost.

Speaking in Gaborone on Thursday, General Manager for Africa Initiative, Fernando de Sousa, revealed that the Nasdaq quoted company will endevour to bring affordability and quality.

“As much as we want Africa to consume technology, we want Africa to create technology,” de Sousa said.

Microsoft, through its 4Afrika, will actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness. To help business people across the continent, de Sousa revealed that the plan is to have one million small businesses online and utilising Personal Computers and Tablets and allow someone in Francistown to connect to the rest of the world.

The initiative also encourages employability where it aims at coming up with partnerships and incubation. Microsoft so far has 12, 000 partnership in ecosystems projects in Africa. The partnerships have created 150, 000 jobs and the company plans in the next 3 years to add another 250, 000 jobs.

Microsoft also said it will also bring millions of technology devices that will enable Africans to turn ideas into opportunities. In the continent where electricity and internet are still not classified as basic needs, the company has developed cost effective products that are harmless to the environment.

The company has created an efficient low cost communication using a new technology called Dynamic Spectrum Access through free TV channels (Spectrum). The free TV Spectrum is called “White Space”. The solution is commonly known as TV white space broadband and can facilitate delivery of broadband access to places that currently lack electricity and telecom network deployment.

“It was such an interesting discovery for us,” de Sousa said. Innovation Hub Chief Executive Officer, Alan Boshwaen is grateful to confidence that Microsoft has in the hub and the country. “For us it is an opportunity to demonstrate that we are in the forefront,” Boshwaen noted.

Microsoft said the goal of 4Afrika is to empower every African who has a great idea for a business or an application and to turn that idea into a reality which in turn can help their community, their country, or even the continent at large. 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.

4Afrika is a Microsoft initiative that was introduced in Feb 2013 as a multi-year investment in the African continent. It has three core pillars of focus ÔÇô innovation, world-class skills and access.
These pillars were chosen because they were the common focus areas of the majority of African governments looking to accelerate economic development. Microsoft has more than 20 years of doing business in Africa.

The 4Afrika Initiative is an effort through which Microsoft will actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness. It aligns the company’s growth to that of the Continent, by empowering every African with a great idea for a business or an application and to turn that idea into a reality which in turn can help their community, their country, or even the continent at large.

The 4Afrika Initiative introduces a number of projects designed to drive one or more of the core pillars.

In Kenya and Tanzania, the initiative announced TV white spaces pilots together with those governments and local ISPs, to deliver high speed broadband access to sparsely populated rural areas, to campus environments, to home users and to small medium business owners.

In Kenya, the aggressive goal set by the government, which the initiative is actively working to help achieve with TV white spaces, is to get 80 percent of the population connected to high speed Internet within the next 2 years.

In Egypt and South Africa, the initiative created “App Factories” which are staffed by paid student interns and designed to accelerate the creation of relevant apps for Africans, by Africans. More than 400 apps have been created to-date, and the interns are cranking out approximately 90 new apps every month.

Microsoft has also introduced the 4Afrika Academy, a training program targeting Microsoft partner community and government leaders to help them get the skills they need to take their businesses and legislative agendas, respectively, to the next level. In the months since launch, more than 1100 people across 14 African countries have already been trained.

The company is also running 4Afrika DevCamps which are week-long training sessions for developers to help them learn how to build an app or a business on the Microsoft platform. DevCamps have ran in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Tunisia and Nigeria to-date, touching around 1100 developers, and plans are afoot to accelerate this with 2 DevCamps a month in various countries.

“The world has recognized the promise of Africa, and Microsoft wants to invest in that promise. Microsoft believes that by helping create jobs and enabling collaboration through technology, we can accelerate intra-African trade and investment and support Africa’s emergence as an increasingly relevant and influential global market force.”

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