Johannesburg – Microsoft South Africa on Tuesday introduced the Microsoft 4Afrika initiative to help Africa increase its global competitiveness through economic development and job creation.
Microsoft SA said at the launch event in Johannesburg 4Afrika will help African countries improve their competitiveness by helping them create and develop their own intellectual property. To do this, they will focus on three key pillars – innovation, world class skills and access.
The AppFactory, an initiative where Microsoft will hire student interns to build locally-relevant Windows applications based on suggestions from the public was also launched under the 4Afrika banner. AppFactory has already created 73 Windows apps and 39 Windows phone apps, and plans to release around 90 new applications to the Windows Store each month.
Microsoft SA is also aligning its investments and activities with the government’s national development plan (NDP), on which it plans to focus strongly on job creation. Microsoft believes that youth unemployment is one of the biggest threats and challenges facing South Africa.
“In South Africa, our challenge is clear: we need to make clear strides in tackling the scourge of youth unemployment by giving people real-world skills and creating jobs. At the moment, our unemployed youth are the biggest threat to our stability as a nation; but harnessed well, they can become the country’s greatest asset,” said Mteto Nyati, managing director at Microsoft SA.
Microsoft has committed to give Africa access to tens of millions affordable technological devices, help bring 1 million African SMEs online and train 200 000 Africans to help with their employability. It is committed to achieve this within three years.
To help them with giving access to these devices, Microsoft has teamed up with Huawei to create a Windows 8 smartphone, called the Huawei 4Afrika, which will come pre-loaded with applications specifically designed for Africa and its needs.
This device will be available in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa later this month. It will be targeted at students, developers and first-time smartphone users to enable them to connect, collaborate, and access markets and opportunities online.
“The world has recognised the promise of Africa, and Microsoft wants to invest in that promise. We want to empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers and business and civic leaders to turn great ideas into a reality that can help their community, their country, the continent, and beyond,” said Fernando de Sousa, general manager at Microsoft SA.
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