The unique breakfast session dubbed as AMA (Ask Me Anything) gave the attendees a chance to have an open discussion with the Microsoft Team of Engineers and other Microsoft Executives who included Michael Fortin (Corporate Vice President), Henry Sanders (Corporate Vice President for Software Development and Core Operating System) and Dele Akinsade (Cloud Expansion Director at Microsoft ).
The #MEET session sparked great conversations and insights around what Microsoft was doing for Africa almost three decades since they opened their first offices in Africa.
The team cited the incredible growth they have witnessed in the continent that included more internet connectivity, more digital capability and more innovation. This in turn has helped the Microsoft capitalize on Africa’s potential through building strong partnerships to accelerate digital transformation and create sustained societal impact.
The team acknowledged that Africans had expanded the applications of technology, changing the way communities bank, farm and even access healthcare.
Here are some of the other excerpts that emerged from the conversations:
The major announcement
Microsoft team announced the launch of its first Africa Development Centre (ADC). With two initial sites in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria, the ADC will serve as a premier centre of engineering for Microsoft, where world-class African talent can create solutions for local and global impact.
The platform will help Microsoft better listen to their customers, develop locally and scale for global impact. The ADC platform will also be a great opportunity for Microsoft to engage further with partners, academia, governments and developers driving impact in sectors important to the continent, such as FinTech, AgriTech and OffGrid energy.
ADC will be seeking engineering talent from across the continent to fuel AI, machine learning and mixed reality innovation. The centre is up and running and Microsoft intends to recruit 100 full-time engineers by the end of the year expanding to 500 across the two sites by 2023.
The move comes few months after Microsoft opened Africa’s first hyperscale data centers in South Africa, promoting business innovation in the cloud.
Affordable Internet for Africa.
During the same session, Microsoft discussed on ways they were helping deliver cost effective broadband access to rural areas following a question from one of the attendees. The team pointed out that they had partnered locally with network operators and were leveraging on a mix of technologies like TV White Spaces, fixed wireless, and satellite coverage. This technology model can and will help reduce both the initial capital and the ongoing operating costs of broadband networks making internet quite affordable.
Citing their TV White in Nanyuki, Amrote Abdella, Managing Director Microsoft4Afrika stated that the TV White spaces project is a large scale TVWS network that was deployed in 2013 by Mawingu Networks to provide affordable internet access to those who thought they would never get it. To date Microsoft in partnership with Mawingu Networks have deployed 100,000 hotspots across the Mount Kenya region making internet in that region not free but quite affordable
Impacting future generations
During the session, the team announced that they had partnered with several organizations and local learning institutions to impact future generations through running several programmes. Some of these programmes include Interns4Afrika, Microsoft Virtual Academy, Microsoft App Factory, Biz4Afrika, MySkills4Afrika among other great initiatives.
In 2013 Microsoft also launched Microsoft4Afrika initiative. The initiative started investing in start-ups, partners, small-to-medium enterprises, governments and youth on the African continent with a key focus on delivering affordable access to the internet, developing skilled workforces and investing in local technology solutions.
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