Microsoft expands commitment to Africa

Microsoft Corp. has given African countries a US$1 billion commitment though its Unlimited Potential program (UP), aimed at developing information and communication technology around the world.

Microsoft intends to build a partnership in the ICT sector, according to Cheick Diarra, chairman of Microsoft Africa. The plan is for Microsoft, in conjunction with private institutions, governments and nongovernmental organizations, to train people in software, entrepreneurial and ICT skills.

Microsoft has already been involved in various initiatives to build up the ICT sector in Africa, including the e-school project, which supplies schools across the African continent including Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal with PC labs, software, training, connectivity and maintenance.

UP is a global initiative, providing technology skills through community technology centers. Microsoft provides grants to support technology-training programs ranging from basic computer-skills education to business productivity applications.

“ICT provides the most effective tool to fight unemployment that is facing many people today, including youths,” Diarra said. The grants are made through Microsoft U.S. and international subsidiaries that work closely with local organizations to identify community-based technology centers.

Last year, Microsoft provided grants to more than seven African countries including Tunisia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

This year however, Microsoft has listed 14 African countries including South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius and Morocco as beneficiaries of the UP program.

Diarra said computer skills available in most African countries do not meet specific market demand, hence youths are unable to secure jobs in the IT sector.

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