Microsoft introduces 4Afrika Initiative

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Microsoft, along with Huawei, want to put smart devices at the disposal of African students, as well as bring 1 million African small and medium businesses online. To this end the companies have launched the 4Afrika Initiative, which will “actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness.”

Huawei’s contribution to the program comes in the form of the 4Afrika-branded Windows Phone smart devices which will be released on the continent that are targeted at university students, developers and those new to smartphones.

Microsoft will also be establishing several projects across the African continent, including a pilot program with the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Kenyan ISP Indigo Telecom that hopes to use TV white spaces and solar-powered base stations to “deliver low-cost, high-speed, wireless broadband and create new opportunities for commerce, education, healthcare, and delivery of government services across Kenya.” Similar projects are planned for Eastern and Southern Africa at a later stage.

Microsoft will be launching an online hub that will provide qualifying SMEs (small and medium enterprises) with free domain registrations and free access to unspecified products from Microsoft and its partners. The hub will “aggregate the available services which can help them expand their business locally, find new business opportunities outside their immediate geography, and help increase their overall competitiveness” and is expected to roll out in South Africa and Morocco first.

Microsoft has also established the Afrika Academy, which will be free to recent higher education graduates, government leaders and Microsoft partners. The Afrika Academy is an “education platform leveraging both online and offline learning tools, to help Africans develop both technical and business skills for entrepreneurship and improved employability.”

The newly announced initiatives joins the App Factory, Nokia and Windows Phone user training and female empowerment portal projects that have already launched as part of the 4Afrika Initiative.

Managing director of Microsoft South Africa Mteto Nyati said at today’s launch event “We are all largely consumers of other people’s IP. If we want to be comparable, we have to turn things around.”

“We have to start becoming creators [of]things that can be used globally. This program is about this.”

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