By Olubunmi Adeniyi
The planned spending is part of MicroSoft4Afrika initiative, a new effort through which the US software maker will actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness.
While making this announcement yesterday at a media briefing in Lagos, Emmanuel Onyeje, General Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, discloses that by 2016, the Microsoft 4Afrika initiative plans to place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of youths across the continent.
The programme plans to connect one million African SMEs online, upgrade the skill of 100,000 members of the continent’s existing workforce and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability while the tech company will help place 75 per cent of the number in jobs.
Microsoft did not disclose the total number of Nigerian who will benefit from the programme as Onyeje says that, “we have not carve any number for any country yet.”
The Microsoft Nigeria chief says that the world has recognised the promise in Africa and Microsoft wants to invest in that promise.
“We want to empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers, business and civic leaders to turn great ideas into a reality that can help their community, the continent and beyond, Onyeje adds.
The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative is built on the dual beliefs that technology can accelerate growth for Africa and Africa can also accelerate technology of the world, he adds, noting that it is a commercial economic driven programme for Africa.
According to him, Microsoft with its 1,750 partners in Nigeria will work closely with start ups and big organisations in the country to fully harness the power of innovation to meet the needs of the communities.
As part of the steps toward increasing the adoption of smart devices, at the event, Microsoft also unveiled its partnership with Chinese telecoms equipment company, Huawei under which they launched a new low-cost Windows Phone 8 powered smartphone.
Gustavo Fuchs , Director, Mobility Windows Phone, Microsoft Middle East and Africa says the software company and Huawei tied-up to introduce a full functionality Windows Phone 8 which come pre-loaded with select applications designed for Africa.
According to him, Microsoft is working to make the devices available in Nigeria by the end of February and across Africa later this March.
He adds that Huawei 4Afrika phone, which is the first in what will be a series of smart devices designed and targeted toward university students, developers and first-time smartphone users to ensure they have affordable access.
Huawei 4Afrika runs Windows Phone 8 OS and sports a 4.0-inch WVGA IPS 800×480 display. It is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8230-3 dual-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz, 512MB of RAM to keep things running.
The smartphone is equipped with a 5 megapixel camera on back to record 720p HD videos, a front-facing 0.3 megapixel shooter, microSD card slot for memory expansion up to 32GB, micro USB 2.0, Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11 Wi-Fi b/g/n, pre-loaded Data Sense, access to Marketplace, Xbox Live Games, Microsoft Office, a Lithium-Polymer 1,950 battery. A whole host of the Windows Phone services and all the regular features of a Windows Phone 8 device come with the smartphone.
Huawei 4Afrika comes preloaded with custom apps created by African developers for African consumers and also feature a market-specific store. No official word on price information yet for the new smartphone.