July, 2010

  • Technology Helps Make A True World Cup

    Posted by Cheick Diarra (Chairman for Africa) and Mteto Nyati (Managing Director, Microsoft South Africa)

    FIFA is still completing their official evaluation report of the host country for the 2010 World Cup, but we know South Africa shared a victory with Spain on the night of July 10th by raising Africa's profile in the international community as a proud, hopeful, and increasingly stable continent. Moreover, we were thrilled to see that technology in all its forms played a major role in the month-long event’s success and wide-spread acclaim.

    We have watched the South African government, FIFA, and the industry at large make huge investments in technology over the last six years in order to bring the 2010 World Cup to as broad an audience as possible. For example, for the first time, technology allowed fans from across the globe to determine the Man-of-the-Match awards for the 2010 World Cup via Web and SMS technology. Visually-impaired fans were able to enjoy soccer like everyone else during the 2010 World Cup thanks to an Audio Description project that provided the visually impaired with small receivers with inner-ear headphones for 44 matches. FIFA itself charted seven billion page views of its site FIFA.com, 410 million of those page views were recorded in a single day!

    Among our partners and customers, we were especially proud to see the Official IT Services Provider to FIFA, Mahindra Satyam, run a world-class, Microsoft-based IT system that delivered a Ticketing, Accreditation, Transportation, Volunteer, Space and Material management solution that assured a safe and secure event for over 230,000 World Cup delegates, staff and volunteers.

    But more significantly, we recognize the 2010 World Cup's longer term social impact.

    South Africa Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was interviewed recently in the McKinsey Quarterly, saying that, “Sporting events such as the World Cup always serve to cement the sense of belonging, the sense of being one nation."

    On behalf of Microsoft’s 88,000 employees around the world, we want to say ‘Thank you, South Africa, for leading the way!’

  • Laying the foundation for cybersecurity in Africa

    Posted by Cheick Diarra
    Chairman for Africa

    Two weeks ago I had the honor of participating in the third African ICT Best Practices Forum in Burkina Faso, where I met with government leaders from across Africa to discuss one of the most pressing issues in public sector ICT right now: cyber security.

    As Internet penetration increases across the continent, so does the risk of sophisticated cyber attacks, threatening African nations’ security, infrastructure, economic growth and citizen services. Microsoft detected over 126 million samples of malware worldwide in the second half of 2009 alone, an increase of 8.9% over the first half of the year. Worse still is the association of cybercrime with Africa, where such countries as Nigeria have become synonymous with advance fee fraud or “419” scams. The cybercriminals who pose as government “officials” requesting assistance in exchange for advance payments undermine the trust as well as the freedom of a healthy Internet economy.

    At Microsoft, we believe our ability to retain the confidence of ICT adopters in both government and society rests on three urgent areas of intervention against cyber threats in Africa, and around the world:

    1. Collaboration: Government with government, industry with industry, and government with industry. Local, national, regional and international cooperation is key to meet and deal with the range and breadth of threats and citizens' expectations.
    2. Assessment: The use of risk management principles must be at the core of security investments. Accurate and proactive assessment of and planning for cyber threats is crucial for managing cyber security incidents.
    3. Appropriate regulation: By ensuring a system of appropriate laws, policies and resources are in place to investigate, prosecute, and punish criminals as necessary.

    While these three principles provide a practical framework for the development of government's effective cyber security policies, we are also working closely with law enforcement to combat cybercrime. Microsoft is looking forward to joining the Economic and Financial Crime Commission of Nigeria, U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), Council of Europe, Serious Crime Organisation, Interpol, and other members of the ICT industry at the West Africa Cybercrime Summit in Nigeria in October 2010, where we hope to take the best practices outlined in Burkina Faso a step further by developing multi-lateral commitments to put an end to cybercrime.