This week, Microsoft announced a new initiative to support development and global competitiveness in Africa.
The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative has wide-reaching aims:
- to bring tens of millions of smartphones and tablets to Africa's youth
- bring 1 million African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online
- train 100,000 members of Africa’s existing workforce
- help 100,000 recent graduates develop employability skills,
- help place 75% of those graduates in jobs.
On the first point, Microsoft and Huawei will introduce a Windows Phone 8 specifically branded “4Afrika” that will be disseminated in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa this month, targeted at university students, developers and first-time users.
Secondly, a new SME Online Hub will open in April, first in South Africa and Morocco, to connect African SMEs to free services and products from Microsoft and others. Businesses that join will receive free domain registration for one year and free tools to help them establish a web presence.
Afrika Academy, an education platform leveraging online and offline learning tools, will help Africans develop technical, business, and entrepreneurship skills, starting in March, at no cost to recent higher education graduates, government leaders and the Microsoft partner community.
Alongside its partners, Microsoft has launched an AppFactory in South Africa and Egypt that takes crowdsourced requests for Africa-relevant Windows 8 or Windows phone applications.
The company has also established agreements with Safaricom in Kenya and Bharti Airtel in Nigeria to accelerate local adoption of the Nokia Lumia 510 and Nokia Lumia 620 Windows Phones.
Finally, a portal targeted at female empowerment will launch in March, as an offshoot of the MasrWorks IT skills portal. It will provide IT skills training and softer-skills training to help women play a leadership role in their communities.
“We believe there has never been a better time to invest in Africa and that access to technology — particularly cloud services and smart devices — can and will serve as a great accelerator for African competitiveness,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International.
More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/4Afrika.