Microsoft 4Afrika: Accelerating Africa’s economic development through Access, Innovation and World-Class Skills

4Afrika Lumia

The initiative is living to see substantial impact swept across the mother continent while uplifting and educating the next wave of Afrocentric developers, policy makers, students among others while promoting their technologies through skills acquisition, increased access, mentorship, good governance among others.

It has  spurred entrepreneurship across the social divide with many lives being transformed through the above provisions since their accessibility in Africa is limited to a handful. Identification of this has been able to accelerate affordable access to technology while  imparting world-class skills and building innovation amongst its beneficiaries.

 

Affordable access to technology through the provision of affordable smart devices and cloud services

While we recently covered how Microsoft’s cloud services can transform lives and business’, this particularly can only happen with access to affordable gadgetry like smart devices including phones, tablets, PCs  to our younger population. But how to better use these devices without access to internet? Your guess is as good as mine.

Microsoft is addressing this constraint with its partners through pilot projects that bring affordable internet access like Mawingu in off the grid rural kenya and Ekovolt in Nigeria that make use of TV white spaces.

TV white spaces  is underutilized spectrum that Microsoft’s affiliates use to provide last-mile internet access to schools, universities, healthcare centers and regional offices across Africa. With access to the internet, that is to; relevant web services, markets information, research, government services among others, many Africans can leverage opportunities exhibited by the interconnected web, boost productivity and explore new opportunities that would otherwise lay unutilized.

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Provision of world-class skills

The recent quality of fresh graduands has raised concerns over their inability to meet current market demands and their lack of skills. This renders them untenable in the current job environment making them miss out on available opportunities. But through 4Africa Initiative’s vision of developing a self-sustaining, world-class education platform, both online and offline, to help Africans develop skills for entrepreneurship and improved employability and competitiveness, such concerns are likely to dwindle and give African bred grads, government leaders among others a global competitive advantage that makes them fit for the current job environment.  Such efforts rely heavily on partners, including African universities, research institutions and others.

This has been manifested through the 4Afrika Internships that places interns in Microsoft offices and its partner companies across Africa to develop in-demand hard and soft skills, mySkills4Afrika that brings Microsoft employees from around the world to share their expertise and learn from Africa’s governments, Microsoft partners, entrepreneurs and more plus AppFactory that empowers paid interns to develop relevant apps to meet local challenges and start their own ventures.

 

Innovation

The technologies we enjoy today were once solutions to problems faced by people at the time but that doesn’t mean challenges ceased to happen. How to better address Africa’s problems than Africans themselves? Microsoft’s 4Africa initiative realised this and so the inclusion of Africans in addressing the continent’s many challenges that they believe can be overcome with technological skillmanship and prowess. In the quest to realise this, Microsoft wants to help ignite African innovation for the continent and for the world through its commitment of working closely with African Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and developers to accelerate the development of highly relevant Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps – by Africans, for Africa. This, by investing in developers enabling  them get access to the technology, mentorship, connections, and go-to-market support they need to thrive through;

  • Helping them understand, register and protect their intellectual property for monetisation using through the IP Hub.
  • Providing start-ups with seed funding, mentorship and technical support to scale their solutions by providing them Innovation Grants

 

All these are believed to  gradually uplift productivity, increase our competitive advantage and see it on its way to economic glory.

 

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