The American multinational computer technology corporation, Microsoft, has expanded its footprint into Botswana, with the first ever Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC) set to be officially launched this week.
The Innovation Centre, an extension of the global Microsoft Innovation Centre network, is designed to promote the development of innovation and growth of the Botswana software economy and support the government’s diversification of the economy away from diamonds.
“The new MIC offers young entrepreneurs, students, developers and researchers in the local community access to expert information and high-tech equipment for testing and developing the latest technologies built on the Microsoft platform,” said Warren La Fleur, Senior Business Development Manager, Microsoft.
“Offering these opportunities to the local community is an important step to encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship,” said La Fleur.
It is Microsoft vision that the center will boost the local software developer industry, driving increased availability of highly skilled and proficient ICT users as well as developer skills in the country.
“By fostering innovation, together we can ultimately drive growth in the local and regional economy,” said La Fleur.
In addition, MIC is expected to provide assistance and resources to small and medium sized companies to create new and innovative products and services and bring those products to the market and improve their business competitiveness.
Microsoft is already investing in the growth of Botswana’s software industry through programmes aimed at creating skills and jobs in software design and manufacturing, including: BizSpark, which provides startups with access to technology, business and tech expertise, and market visibility; DreamSpark, which gives students Microsoft professional tools at no charge; and Imagine Cup, the world’s premier student technology competition.
“It is a grand opportunity for Botswana to be partnering with an innovation global leader, Microsoft, in realising our dreams as an innovation economy,” said Mabua Mabua, Coordinator for Information and Communications Technology, Government of Botswana.
“We assure them that we will continuously make Botswana their home for greater innovation for Africa and the rest of the World.”
Globally, Microsoft works with partners from the public sector, academic institutions and industry to promote innovation. The Microsoft Innovation Centres are a central component of this innovation drive, which provides effective support for the local software markets. There are now more than 90 Microsoft Innovation Centres worldwide.
“The Botswana Innovation Hub is pleased to have collaborated with Microsoft in setting up this unique facility in Botswana as it provides a focal point to assist in the growth of our ICT industry,” said Alan Boshwaen, CEO of the Botswana Innovation Hub.
“We are confident that it will enable specialized ICT skills that can in time be harnessed to create more localized content and software applications relevant to the needs and characteristics of Botswana and our wider region,” said Boshwaen.
Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe is expected officially launch MIC on 1 December, 2011 in Gaborone