TechCentralMemeburnmpieters.com Tech MamboTech MtaaDigital Africa
Industry & Interest Groups
United Nations Industrial Development OrganisationUNIDO AfrIPANetUnited States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief UNIDO AfricaResearch4Life HINARIAGORAOAREUNHCR AfricaUNESCO CMCsEU-Africa Business ForumUganda JournalistBusiness in Ethiopia Forbes CSR Blog Financial Times Beyond Brics Blog Financial Times This is Africa
Microsoft on the IssuesAfricans at Microsoft Microsoft BlogBing BlogInside Unlimited Potential Windows Team blogSouth Africa Developer and Platform Group
By Kevin Connolly, Windows Business Group Manager for Microsoft Sub-Saharan Africa & Indian Ocean Islands
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. ~ Henri Bergson
The news has been out for a while but if you haven’t heard, take note. Microsoft is ending Windows XP support from April 8th, 2014. This may sound scary, but moving onto a new operating system is a completely natural progression, and just like a car needs to be serviced and upgraded, so do computers. This is why Microsoft has a ten year Support Lifecycle Policy.
Windows XP was launched in October 2001. When I think back on the last 10 years, I realize just how much can change in a decade. In 2001, many of us were still using floppy disks, the very first Harry Potter film graced our screens; Africa’s Queen of pop, Brenda Fassie had just released her ‘Greatest Hits’ album, and flip phones were all the rage. Wikipedia had just launched, Facebook didn’t exist yet – and, Windows XP was the latest and greatest operating system on the market with a faster start-up time, a sleeker interface, and exciting new tools like Media Player and Movie Maker.
Over the last ten years, the floppy disk has become antiquated, seven Harry Potter movies have been box-office hits, Africa has mourned the loss of the Queen of African Pop, and flip phones have become a rarity. Wikipedia has replaced encyclopaedias, Facebook has become the most popular website in the world – and, people who are still using Windows XP are now missing out on the latest and greatest technology.
Just like pop culture, technology has changed drastically over the last decade. As an enabler, it responds to the changing needs of its users. It empowers people by saving them time, improving productivity and removing constraints– from geographical distance to language barriers. It makes what was previously impossible, possible. And the limit to what it can do is constantly expanding. When you start to think of technology like this, it becomes clear why using outdated forms of it cause you to fall behind.
So, relying on XP, which is now 11 years old, could mean you’re doing business at half the pace of everyone else, and coming up against obstacles no one else encountersanymore. Because of its age, Windows XP also relies on the ongoing delivery of security-related patches to remain secure. When support ends, users will no longer receive new security updates and patches. With more sophisticated cyber threats emerging every day it’s critical that individuals and businesses have a modern OS to protect their data, customer and credit card information, and keep their IP safe!
With Windows 8 having just reached its 100 millionth license activation and over 60 000 Windows 8 apps available in the app store, there is no better opportunity to embrace newer and bettertechnologies than now! When it comes to the world of technology, standing still really is falling behind.
And, the good news for SMBs, is that if they register for Windows 8 Pro before 30 June, they’ll receive a 15% discount on Windows 8 Pro and Office Standard 2013
Posted by Fernando de Sousa General manager, Africa Initiatives at Microsoft
This week, Cape Town is hosting the World Economic Forum for Africa (WEF) and I’m lucky enough to be attending. The WEF covers almost 30 different topic areas that together hold the key to Africa’s continued and increased expansion and economic development. The potential for positive change is huge, which is why I’m so excited to be here and to meet likeminded people who have the ideas and energy to help Africa thrive in the digital age.
Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative is itself trying to achieve more for Africa (it’s in the name!). 4Afrika was launched in February with the aim of improving Africa’s global competitiveness through technology. Two of our stated goals are to make affordable smart devices available to Africa’s youth and to test unused TV broadcast radio frequencies (known as ‘white space’ frequencies) to increase Internet access in underserved areas. In February in Kenya, we launched Project Mawingu, our first white spaces project in Africa.
Today, I’m excited to announce another white spaces collaboration aimed at connecting African students and teachers and giving them the opportunity to engage in the global – and borderless – digital dialogue. In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, we are working alongside the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and local internet service provider UhuruOne to get tens of thousands of university students and faculty members better connected by installing low-cost wireless broadband access at the University of Dar es Salaam, amongst others, and to provide affordable Windows devices and relevant services. [See press release for more information]
Projects like this are part of our overall 4Afrika strategy to engage in Africa’s development, address youth unemployment, help recent graduates develop skills for employability, and support the development of young software developers and entrepreneurs.
The three principal themes of this year’s WEF Africa are ‘Accelerating Economic Diversification’, ‘Boosting Strategic Infrastructure’ and ‘Unlocking Africa’s Talent’. We believe 4Afrika serves all three of these themes. Hyper-connectivity is vital to the economic and social development of the continent, and improving access through initiatives like 4Afrika will help achieve these critical goals.
We’re proud to say that Microsoft 4Afrika is gaining momentum. Since launch we’ve seen nearly 400 apps created by our AppFactory interns, and we’ve touched more than 1,100 developers through DevCamps in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda and Tunisia alone. We’ve also trained around 1,100 partners and government leaders across 14 countries through our Afrika Academy. We’re just getting started, so we’re looking forward to the time here at WEF Africa this week to make sure that as a community, we are working together to pursue common goals and to accelerate African competitiveness and innovation.
Posted by Dele AkinsadeDeveloper Platforms Evangelism Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean Islands
Developers are crucial to Africa’s digital development. Without local developers to rely on, Africa would struggle to gain ground in an increasingly digital global economy. And, they are important to our ecosystem in Africa because we rely on them to make our offerings locally relevant. For example, when Windows 8 was launched worldwide last year, African developers seized the opportunity to create new apps to address Africa’s unique opportunities and challenges.
To support the development of a vibrant, strong developer community in Africa, we hold frequent Microsoft DEV Camps across the continent. They are not only a great opportunity for developers to learn from experts and network with each other, but also to have valuable hands-on time to practically apply what they have learnt to an IT problem. What’s more, they are completely free!
DEV Camps are an important part of our commitment to Africa. The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, launched in February 2013, is built on the belief that technology can accelerate growth for Africa, and that Africa can also accelerate technology for the world. We know that African developers not only have the potential to solve local challenges, but to solve global ones too, and this is why we’re increasing our investments even further in reaching out to African developers.
So don’t miss out on the opportunity to be part of Microsoft developers’ community by participating in one of the upcoming Microsoft DEV Camps in Africa, taking place in Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya in 2013. If you are unable to attend any of the Camps, you can start perfecting your development skills through our array of online resources:
- DreamSpark provides students with software design and development tools at no charge.
- Microsoft Virtual Academy provides free online IT training & learning of Windows, Microsoft Technologies through courses designed by industry experts.
- Channel 9 keeps you up to date with videos from people behind the scenes building products at Microsoft.
- Microsoft Learning provides online computer training, and online computer certification for all Microsoft technology products, courses, and exams.
- BizSpark provides free software, support, visibility, and community to promising start-ups and visionary entrepreneurs.
For details on upcoming DEV Camps in your region, you can follow these Facebook pages and groups: Microsoft Africa; Africa Apps, Microsoft DPE WCA, DPE Nigeria, DPE Indian OceanIslands, and DPE East and SouthernAfrica.
You can also follow @MicrosoftAfrica and @AfricaApps onTwitter.
Posted by Robert Kayihura, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Today, we are celebrating World Intellectual Property Day, a global event that brings attention to the importance of intellectual property in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year’s theme is ‘Creativity: The Next Generation”.
This got me thinking –when we look at the next generation in Africa, what do we need to do to ensure they are able to be as creative as they possibly can be in solving future challenges?
Finding creativity in Africa certainly isn’t the challenge. Like anywhere in the world, people across the continent have been coming up with creative solutions to everyday challenges for centuries. People are naturally innovative and in Africa this is particularly evident when you look at the informal sector, where people have found extremely creative ways of making a living and addressing local needs and challenges.
New skills needed to use new tools
However, thanks to technology, there is far more potential to solve what were previously considered unsolvable problems. Think about all the breakthroughs we’ve seen in healthcare in the last decade. Yet, while information technology (IT) is more ubiquitous and continues to advance; the disconnect between the people who experience certain challenges and those that have the ability to solve them is widening. So while there may be an app for almost every purpose in the world; most people in Africa don’t own smartphones, and those that have challenges that could potentially be solved using IT also don’t have the means or in many cases the know-how to create relevant apps.
Local solutions to local challenges
This is why we are so passionate about supporting local developers, entrepreneurs and startups on the continent, and about ensuring the next generation has the skills and tools needed to empower themselves and contribute positively to society.
The realization of how important it is to support innovation in Africa is largely what has informed our recently launched 4Afrika Initiative. We started noticing through our work across the continent that a huge number of young people were really set on coming up with their own solutions to local challenges. While many of them succeeded without any help, these encouraging trends confirm what we’ve observed in other parts of the world – the most effective way to solve challenges in Africa, is to support the continent’s young people, aspiring entrepreneurs, and the regions small and midsize businesses by helping them access the devices and IT services they need to do the ‘problem-solving’. After all, this is a far more sustainable approach!
The missing ingredient
But there is one thing missing from this mix that is necessary to support a strong culture of innovation: a widespread understanding of the concept of intellectual property (IP), and a respect for the protection of ideas.
Last month in Tanzania African Ministers gathered to discuss the role of innovation as a driving force of social, economic, and environmental development. Countries that are highly innovative have greater development potential, and the protection of IP is central to ensuring the link between the two.
Recently I wrote about how important IP is to start-ups, and how strong IP legislation can really make all the difference when it comes to attracting investors. As I noted, inventions protected by patents are worth on average 200% more than unprotected inventions. For African entrepreneurs to have the chance to take their ideas to market and compete against global companies, they must have the assurance that all their hard work will not be stolen from them.
So this World IP Day, I urge you to consider the place innovation has in your life and in the future success of Africa – and to spread the word about how important it is for us to collectively support the culture of innovation that is already rooted in our history.
Posted by Robert Kayihura, Director of Legal & Corporate Affairs, West, East, Central Africa (WECA), Microsoft
Imagine you’re in charge of a multinational organization. Some of you may be already, but most of us aren’t that lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view). But imagine that you are the CEO of ‘You Corp’. You and your board want to expand your business into different countries and sell your product to new customers. What three things should you look for in order to ensure your business takes off?
First, you’re looking for demand. If your company is not offering something that customers want, you may need to rethink your plans. Let’s assume You Corp’s product is the best in its category and something a lot of consumers want to own.
Second, you need a supply chain. You’ll be importing your goods at first (maybe forever), and you need assurance that your new market or region has a transportation network and customs infrastructure that can support truck-loads of your product coming in and landing on store shelves in good time.
For some, the third factor may come as a surprise: make sure your intellectual property (IP) will be protected. IP is essential for business success, regardless of product or geography. IP protection safeguards four very important assets: patents (your inventions); trademarks (the symbols and other designs that distinguish your product or company); trade secrets (the confidential business intelligence that gives your company a competitive advantage); and copyrights (works of authorship that lead to successful books, films, music and other creative expressions).
‘But IP merely funnels riches to the already-rich!’
Not so. The protection of IP is as important to start-up companies as it is to large and wealthy multinational organizations. IP protection is what gives small and start-up ventures the confidence to compete against more established firms; it offers the assurance that their investment of time, effort and money will be protected and ultimately rewarded with the growth and success they deserve. In fact, when it comes to start-up companies, their entire value is often based on their IP, and attracting funding is dependent on how well that IP is protected. This makes IP a primary factor in attracting outside investment - and that, after all, is an important way to stimulate national and regional economies not just in Africa, but across the world.
The importance of IP to economic development
It is well established that inventions protected by patents are worth on average 200% more than unprotected inventions. This doesn’t just mean more profit, it means more start-up capital, new and high paying jobs and services, and the creation of new industries. In turn, this all leads to increased economic growth and development which ultimately benefits society as a whole.
At the end of the day, IP protection is about fair competition. With a fair and level playing field, talented individuals, as well as small and mid-sized companies across Africa, will not only compete successfully against wealthy and more established multi-national companies, they will create jobs, improve people’s lives and help transform the region.
Posted by Dele Akinsade Developer Platforms Evangelism Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean Islands
It’s that time of the year again: the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition season is in full swing, with local finals taking place across the continent. The competition brings together student innovators from every corner of the globe to showcase their great ideas for new apps -- and this year the competition is stiffer than ever.
The winning prize pot is a life-changing USD $300,000 – enough to encourage any student developer to put their head down and do some serious coding! But, as clichéd as it might sound, winning isn’t everything at Imagine Cup. The experience of presenting to a panel of expert judges, taking your idea from concept to marketplace, networking with like-minded developers from across the world, and of course, all the fun that’s to be had – is a once in a lifetime, life-changing experience.
As always, I’m most excited to see what innovations come out of Africa, and which teams make it through to the Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia this July. Last year, teams from Egypt and Algeria won awards and Team Cipher256 from Uganda won a Grant Award for WinSenga – a handheld device that can scan a pregnant woman’s womb to monitor baby movements and detect ectopic pregnancy or abnormal foetal heartbeats. This innovation addresses a local challenge in Uganda – lack of access to affordable antenatal care. But it also has the potential to be used in many countries in Africa, and other parts of the world. This is exactly the kind of ‘exchange’that we referred to when we launched the 4Afrika Initiative, which is built on the belief that “technology can accelerate growth for Africa, and Africa can also accelerate technology for the world”. And while Team Cipher256 didn’t walk away with a prize at the finals, they received $50 000 through the Grant Award program, which is driven by Microsoft YouthSpark, an initiative that aims to help young people pursue an education, find employment, and foster entrepreneurship.
I urge all African students to envisage new ways of using technology to tackle the challenges that Africa – and the world- faces. You never know, next year you could be flown to an exciting location to be a part of the 2014 Worldwide Finals! And don’t forget to stay tuned to the Microsoft Africa Facebook page and @MicrosoftAfrica Twitter handle for updates on the African teams competing at this year’scompetition.
Posted by Djam BakhshandegiCorporate Citizenship and Partners in Learning West East Central Africa & Indian Ocean Islands
Empowering women through education and technology is essential to the economic development of any country. In Africa, the gap between the educated population and the one that has never had the opportunity to go to school is even bigger than in other parts of the world; a difference that is exacerbated when we look at the statistics solely for the female population. Moreover, access to technology in Africa has been limited to the rich for years – a trend that is now starting to change.
When it comes to education in Africa, there is still much room for improvement. According to the United Nations, it is estimated that more than 40 per cent of women in Africa do not have access to basic education. However, the encouragement of African women to chase education in the technology sector has increased in the last years and is opening greater possibilities of bridging the gap between those who have access to opportunities and those who don’t.
Considering technology as an important factor for the achievement of growth in Africa, there is a general awareness in the continent that women need to be educated in this field. In this sense, the UNESCO report Science, Technology and Gender identifies that the number of women employed in the scientific and tech industries is increasing in several African countries.
Numerous organisations and foundations are starting new initiatives in Africa with the aim of improving life for women, and contributing to the development of the continent through technology and science. Microsoft is supporting this through its DigiGirlz programme, which is designed to give high-school girls the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. Every year, the DigiGirlz programme reaches over 500 young high-school girls across the continent. Often, these sessions signal new opportunities awakening in the young women’s minds. They are able to see, hear, and understand what education and technology has brought to others and what it can potentially bring to them. And, we also recently launched Aspire Women, the official name of the female empowerment portal first disclosed as part of the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative launch in February 2013. It is an official collaboration between Microsoft Egypt, the 4Afrika Initiative and YouthSpark and is designed to empower young women to play a leadership role in their communities, build their skills and self-esteem, and introduce new models for self-employment.
If you’d like to learn more, please explore the links above and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
By: Marc Israel, Office Division Group Lead for Microsoft West, East and Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands
To celebrate the availability of Office 2013 in Microsoft West, East, Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, Microsoft is giving away 12-month Office 365 Home Premium subscriptions.
Office 365 Home Premium, one of the offerings within Office 2013, is a cloud service designed for busy households and people juggling ever-increasing work and family responsibilities. The new offering includes the latest and most complete set of Office applications; works across up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs and Macs; and comes with extra SkyDrive storage and Skype calling — all for US$79.00 for an annual subscription, the equivalent of less than US$7.00 per month.
To enter, simply follow @MicrosoftAfrica on Twitter, tell us what you can buy for $7 per month and stand to win a 12-month license key for Microsoft’s #Office365 Home Premium – Office for your whole household, across the devices you love.
Terms and conditions below.
By participating in our Twitter Competition, you fully agree and accept the Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium Competition Terms and Conditions ("Terms and Conditions") and you agree to be bound by them. You also agree to abide by the terms and conditions of any third party website or service where the competition is hosted, if any. In these Terms and Conditions, "Microsoft", "we", "our", and "us" refer to Microsoft Nigeria Limited. "You," "yourself" refers to an eligible Twitter competition entrant. “The Promoter” is Microsoft Nigeria Limited, For the purposes hereof, “Territory” shall mean: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti , Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, French Polynesia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Namibia, New Caledonia, Niger, Nigeria, Reunion, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, St. Helena, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Posted by Fernando De Sousa, general manager, Africa Initiatives at Microsoft
Over the last few years, the East African ICT industry has experienced explosive development and has seen the growth of a thriving developer community. It is also home to the renowned ‘iHub’ – an open space made available for technologists, investors, and tech companies in Kenya. One of iHub’s initiatives, m:lab aims to be a leader in identifying, nurturing and helping to build sustainable enterprises in the knowledge economy. I believe that these kinds of inspiring collaborative projects are incredibly effective in kick-starting the momentum needed for emerging local economies to take off and become globally competitive. And that’s why I’m so excited about the announcement we made today at the Innovation Africa Digital Summit in Ethiopia: Microsoft will be collaborating with iHub and m:lab to help fuel African innovation.
Towards a common vision
Self-starters, creative thinkers and entrepreneurs are vital to the progress of developing economies. If you’ve been keeping abreast our activities in Africa, you’ll know how invested we are in supporting developers and aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and opportunities they need to reach their full potential. Last month, we launched the 4Afrika Initiative, focused on accelerating adoption of smart-devices, empowering small- and medium-sized businesses, and raising skills development to ignite African innovation for the continent and for the world. Our strategic cooperation with iHub and m:lab is a new example of one of the many ways we are going to achieve this.
Our collaboration with iHub and m:lab will see the start-up community benefit from our global BizSpark programme, and see us partner on events, research, and consulting projects. We’ll also be establishing a physical presence at iHub, making Microsoft devices like Windows Phones and Windows slates available for testing application and software. Developers hold the key to bringing our technologies ‘to life’ in Africa by making them locally relevant, and there’s no better way to ensure we are supporting them than by talking to and listening to them in person in the places they like to be.
For more information, see the official press release, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
Life is getting busier and people are continuously looking for a way to get more out of the time they have at their disposal.
The availability of Office 2013 is a step in that direction. Office 2013 makes the end user more productive in both a work and home environment. With Office you can continue working offline, while the integration with cloud technologies allows you to sync your documents seamlessly allowing you to be far more productive.
Office 365 Home Premium, one of the offerings within Office 2013, is a cloud service designed for busy households and people juggling ever-increasing work and family responsibilities. In a recent global survey,1 nearly 60 percent of people said they don’t have the time to do the things they want to do, and more than 80 percent said they could save one or more hours a day if they were better organized. Office 365 Home Premium is designed to help people be more productive from virtually anywhere and find the flexibility to do the things they want.
To help people find more time to do the things they want, we are introducing Time to 365 (http://www.office.com/timeto365), a new crowd-sourced website where people can find and share tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration from around the world. Contributors include experts such as “techorating” pro Janna Robinson (http://www.jannarobinson.com) and everyday working parents who have found ways to simplify their lives. Tips on the site include, for example,an idea for organizing your grocery list with OneNote on your phone, a pointer on how to pick the right-sized TV for your living room, and ways to use Office applications to help plan a child’s birthday party.
What are the top 10 features of the new Office, you may ask?
And a bonus one:
Seamlessly integrated with SkyDrive, you can save your Office documents to the cloud in one click, or work offline with your synchronized documents on your computer. A great way to keep your documents secured, while allowing you to stay productive when Internet is not available.
1 Microsoft surveyed more than 10,000 people in over 20 countries.
Posted by Orlando Ayala, Chairman of Emerging Markets, Microsoft
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Microsoft is proud to join United Nations Women (UN Women) and artists from around the world to launch a moving and inspiring song and music video, “One Woman.” It celebrates what we all know: to enable the future we want, we must recognize the enormous potential of half of the world’s population – women. To truly unleash that potential, women must be free from discrimination, including the gender-based violence which is the focus of this year’s International Women’s Day. Up to seven in 10 women will experience some form of violence in their lifetimes. This violence causes more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined in women ages 15 to 44. Violence against women also comes at a high economic cost, ranging from an estimated US $11.28 billion annually in Australia, to US $32.9 billion annually in England and Wales.
The “One Woman” song aims to galvanize support and raise awareness for this issue. We encourage you to take action and share the song because together we can make a difference by saying no to violence and yes to gender equality.
As a company, Microsoft fully embraces and supports the notion of unleashing the power of women. We know we must level the playing field and open opportunities for all – these are concepts deeply rooted in our core corporate philosophy. When women are fully engaged in our workforce and society at large, they bring great ideas and drive great innovation. This is why Microsoft very much values its partnership with UN Women, a global champion for women and girls. UN Women is a vital force for advancing gender equality, tackling key issues such as ending violence against women and promoting women’s political, social and economic empowerment. By combining efforts, we are able to harness the power of technology to both empower and protect women.Technology can be a real catalyst for improving the lives of women. This is why we jointly launched the Women’s Empowerment Award to encourage and reward students of any gender to create technology solutions that address the world’s most pressing gender challenges. The team from Uganda who won the Imagine Cup Grant in 2012 is a great example of what’s possible. The team created WinSenga, a mobile application that allows caregivers to monitor pregnancies and save lives for less than 2 percent of the cost of an ultrasound.
Together, we are also working to make cities safer through mobile technology and to increase the number of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Microsoft’s YouthSpark through the DigiGirlz program and its partnership with the Global Give Back Circle have demonstrated that technology training and mentoring are an effective way to help transform the lives of young women (meet Mary Mwende), and Microsoft is soon expanding this model with the launch of a new site as part of our 4Afrika Initiative.
Empowering women is not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. It has been shown that nations with greater gender equality and higher proportions of educated females have more robust economies. In 2012, the World Bank found that eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in employment could increase productivity per worker by up to 40 percent. The under-utilization of female talent and perspectives not only dampens productivity and IT innovation, it slows economic development. If womens’ paid employment rates rose to those of men, gross domestic product would increase by up to 14 percent by 2020.
And studies show that women invest an average of 90 percent of their income back into their families and communities, which reduces poverty and improves health and education. There is a positive ripple effect of this investment as their children receive improved nutrition, education, and their communities are healthier and safer – saving money on government services and fueling economic growth.
It is undeniable that after the economic crisis of the last decade, the world is desperately searching for a more sustainable and inclusive economic model that enables broader and lasting opportunity. We are convinced that women are and need to be an essential element to chart this critical path forward. Everyone is watching the emerging markets of the world like China, India, Brazil and others, but we believe the most exciting new emerging market for the world will be women and their capability to add tremendous economic value and social growth.
Knowing that women are key to our future, it is critical that we work together to improve their lives and demolish the restrictions they face – whether those are barriers to work or political leadership, more access to enabling technologies to foster entrepreneurship and economic independence, or the toll of gender-based violence. This is why it is so important that we’re here today to spread the message that progress for women is progress for every society. We hope you join us.
Posted by Marius Haman Corporate Attorney, Anti-Piracy, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Middle East & Africa
Counterfeit software has been around for almost as long as computers themselves. It’s a serious problem for the global economy, and for software developers both large and small. Last year, we touched on how weak intellectual property (IP) rights protection in Africa contribute to the current struggles of markets across the continent, as it stifles innovation if inventions aren’t adequately protected by law. And this year, on 6 March, we launched our ‘Play It Safe’ campaign, a global initiative to bring awareness to issues specifically related to software piracy.
There’s no denying that many of us now live in a hyper-connected world. We shop online, bank online, video chat with our friends online and store personal documents online such as bills, photos and contacts. The internet has given us freedom of choice, movement and accessibility. With such a large proportion of our lives now being conducted via the internet, the need for security is clear. But an IDC study, titled “The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software Study 2013” predicts that 2 billion counterfeit programs will be installed on PC’s in 2013. What most users don’t realise is how vulnerable their online lives become when using counterfeit software.
In 2013, one-in-three consumer PCs using counterfeit software will be infected with malware, the malicious code often hidden deep within fake software. The purpose of malware is to steal personal data and send it back to a remote computer, where it is often used by cybercriminals. The effort to combat malware is on-going: in 2013 alone, removing malware from consumer PCs will waste USD $11 billion and consume 1.5 billion hours. I’m sure we can all think of better ways to spend that time and money.
The most effective way to combat malware is to ensure the software you purchase and use is legitimate. The criminal networks that produce and sell counterfeit software go to great effort to ensure their products appear legitimate, making the identification of counterfeit software difficult for consumers.
How to Tell is a Microsoft resource that provides customers with advice on spotting the signs of counterfeit software and how to verify their software is genuine. The site features information on Microsoft’s various security measures and outlines details of what you can do if you have been the victim of counterfeit software.
I urge you to check your PC for counterfeit software because if you’re running fake programs, you could be putting your online life in harm’s way.
Posted by Niyi OmotoyinboChief Consultant for 1st Intellit Solutions Limited in Nigeria Directory Services MVP
The sixth release of Windows Server offers a complete platform for building a private cloud. Having worked on Windows Server and Active Directory since the first version, I can say that Windows Server 2012 is the best Microsoft Server Platform so far. From my point of view, the latest version of the Windows Server operating system offers businesses and hosting providers a scalable, dynamic, and multitenant-aware infrastructure that is optimized for the cloud.
But what features make Windows Server 2012 the best?
1. Server Manager, which allows users to view and manage virtually all of the information and tools that affect your server’s productivity, is for me one of the exciting and revolutionary features in Windows Server 2012. The ability to manage and view the state of your servers from a single dashboard is just amazing. I am really yet to get over this feature!
2. Windows Server 2012 PowerShell ISE 3.0, which enables users to write, run and test scripts and modules in a graphical and intuitive environment, is also another great innovation for me. I would say this is PowerShell made easy. Just write it the way you think it, and PowerShell will complete the code for you. You do not have to be an expert… just think it!
3. With the new Virtualization in Windows Server 2012, customers can easily migrate without having to change their current network architecture. The new Visualization enables the migration of a virtual machine from a server running Hyper-V to another one without the need for both of them to be in the same cluster or to share storage. It basically helps you to keep living your life while in the Cloud.
4. High Availability for Network with NIC Teaming, which allows multiple network adapters on a computer to be placed into a team, is another great feature of Windows Server 2012. Up to 32 NICs can be teamed and you can always be assured of uptime.
5. With DCHP Server Failover, I do not have to worry about IP leases if my local DCHP is down. This feature allows users to have two servers serve IP addresses and option configuration to the same subnet. Thanks to DCHP Server Failover, I have got my DHCP back covered!
Posted by: Bruce Howe, general manager of Nokia East Africa
The Kenyan market has shown phenomenal growth in the use of mobile phones and particularly smartphones. Data from the GSM Association shows that the smartphone market is growing at 40% per annum and that this growth will continue up to 2017. The availability of cheaper smartphones will allow segments of the population that are currently not connected via mobile broadband to incorporate internet browsing in their day-to-day life.
This presents a very exciting opportunity, in Kenya and across the African continent. Today, we are launching Nokia Lumia 620, the third and most affordable in Nokia’s range of Windows Phone 8 smartphones, to the East African market. Alongside the flagship Nokia Lumia 920 and mid-range Lumia 820, which were announced earlier this month, the Nokia Lumia 620 offers a fun and youthful appeal at a highly competitive price.
Affordability remains a key issue when it comes to smartphone adoption on the continent. Through our partnership with Safaricom, we are able to package the Nokia Lumia 620 with great data offers, which ensures we are giving the market great value for money. The Windows Phone 8 operating system brings with it capabilities of its own – allowing individuals to do a lot more with their phones and enabling mobility in their every-day life and work.
If we look at the increase in productivity in Kenya, relating specifically to an increase of mobile enabled workers, in conjunction with making more smartphones available on the continent, it is not only a step in the right direction of driving up productivity, but will create other opportunities as well.
Our goals in Kenya are very much in line with Microsoft’s recent announcements around Microsoft 4Afrika – by making more smart devices available to the African market we are driving local innovation, allowing for more entrepreneurship and enabling people to play an active role in growing the African economy.
We are already seeing local apps being developed for Africans, by Africans. Feature phones have always been a priority for us and as we now see both feature and smartphones becoming more accessible. We are working closely with the Microsoft developer teams to ensure that Windows Phone 8 is supported in the African markets, with apps that are relevant and make a difference in our every-day lives.
Some examples of these are:
Then there is also Nokia City Lens, an augmented reality application which allows individuals to use the amazing maps of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to look at integrated points of interest. It allows you to navigate to key venues, give feedback, add photos, do reviews and make personal comments.
This is not a case of force-fitting global applications in the hope of meeting local demands – we are actively engaging our developer communities and partners such as Microsoft to meet local needs. We are asking Kenyans to do things differently – engage, develop and do business that makes a difference.
Posted by: Djam BakhshandegiCSI Program Manager at Microsoft in Africa
Finding a job is still a daily struggle for millions of young people. Although the prospects for economic growth in Africa are good, increasing youth unemployment is limiting vital areas of that growth. Governments and industries must keep pace with supplying the opportunities to harness its potential, or face a problematic future.
With almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 in Africa today, the youth community represents more than 60 per cent of the continent’s total population and accounts for 45 per cent of its growing labour force. Experts predict that Africa’s labour force will be larger than China’s by 2035.
So there is a real opportunity here to make young people the drivers of prosperity and growth for an entire region. Yet the International Labour Organisation statistics show that youth unemployment in Africa actually increases as education levels increase. It is a sad truth that young Africans are more literate than their parents, and yet more of them are unemployed. We must start from the ground up to ensure that the young labour force has the capacity to take on this important role in our future. And as such, our efforts must be focused on the core foundation of providing high quality education.
Evidence suggests that secondary school achievement has regressed in some African countries, yet overall literacy is growing and Africa spends more on secondary education than the global average.
So what are we missing? What is the recipe to shift this trend, improve education and make a positive impact on youth employment prospects in Africa? The answer must surely be identifying the right kind of skills that African youth need to succeed in today’s knowledge economy, and then boosting access to these skills.
Mindful that youth is the cornerstone of economic growth and competitiveness, policymakers in the Africa and the Middle East have been undertaking a series of actions and decisions aimed at increasing assistance and opportunities for youth. But this not solely an undertaking for governments. The private sector also has a duty to curb the youth unemployment epidemic, and as a leader in the ICT sector, Microsoft role is particularly critical. As technology becomes more ingrained in industries from manufacturing to healthcare and agriculture, ICT skills are high-priority 21st-century skills for employers. Is this shift evident to youth and is it a reality across educational and professional development courses? We have a clear responsibility to communicate these advancements through open dialogue with education providers, and state the skills they expect future employees to possess.
Microsoft has recently introduced the YouthSpark initiative, a new company-wide, global program with the goal to address the opportunity divide – the gap between those who have the skills, access and opportunities to be successful and those who do not – facing young people. Through this initiative, Microsoft is creating opportunities for Africa’s youth through partnerships with governments, non-profit organisations and businesses alike. We are pledging toserve youths by providing them with the enhanced technology and business training necessary to help them pursue additional education, obtain employment or start a new business or social venture.
As a case in point, through YouthSpark, in sub-Saharan Africa alone, we have already reached over half a million young people and made $1.1 million worth of software donations to non-Government-organisations. In addition we have trained almost 30, 000 teachers through our Partners In Learning tools as well as equipping hundreds of small & medium businesses with relevant start up skills.
I am glad that that specific mechanisms are being put in place across the region to foster skills and employability and fight youth unemployment. As policymakers, local businesses, international organisations and non-profits, it is vital that we are not just in the same boat, but that we are all rowing in the same direction. Avoiding the issue any longer is a mistake - young people have the potential, skills and enthusiasm to drive Africa forward and we should give them the best chance to succeed.
Posted by Ali Faramawy
Corporate Vice President, Microsoft MiddleEast & Africa
There is an African proverb that reads, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” We couldn’t agree more. Microsoft has been operating in Africa for 20 years, and today we have offices in 14 countries. As we look forward to our next 20 years, we wanted to explore new ways to link the growth of our business with initiatives that spur economic development for the continent. The world has recognized the promise of Africa, and Microsoft wants to invest in that promise.
This is why today, we are introducing the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, which is designed to help improve Africa’s global competitiveness. Our goal is to empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers, and business and civic leaders to turn great ideas into a reality that can help their community, their country, the continent, and beyond.
By 2016, the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative intends to:
- help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth,
- bring 1 million African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) online, and
- help 200 000 Africans develop skills for entrepreneurship and employability. This will include up-skilling 100,000 members of the existing workforce, as well as training 100,000 recent graduates, 75 percent of whom we intend to help place in jobs.
A smart, affordable device
In Africa today, smartphones account for only about 10 percent of total phones in the market. As a first step toward driving the adoption of smart devices, Microsoft and Huawei today introduced the Huawei 4Afrika phone, a full-functionality Windows Phone 8 preloaded with select applications designed for Africa, by Africans. The Huawei 4Afrika phone, which is the first in what will be a series of “4Afrika” smart devices, will be targeted toward university students, developers and first-time smart phone users to ensure they have affordable access to best-in-class technology, so they can access the information and tools they need to be active global citizens. (See related blog.)
A step closer to connectivity for all
We are also partnering with the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications and Kenyan Internet Service Provider Indigo Telecom Ltd. to deliver low-cost, high-speed wireless broadband across Kenya. Using solar-poweredbase stations together with TV white spaces, a technology partially developed by Microsoft Research, this project will deliver high-speed Internet access to areas currently lacking even basic electricity. We aim to implement similarpilots in East and Southern Africa in the coming months to further explore the commercial feasibility of white space technologies. These pilots will be used to encourage other African countries to accelerate legislation that wouldenable this white spaces technology to deliver on the promise of universal access to high-speed wireless Internet for the African continent. (See related blog and video.)
Getting SMEs online
To help these 1 million African SMEs get online, a new online hub will launch in April that will aggregate available, free services from Microsoft and many others which can help SMEs expand their business locally, find new business opportunities outside their immediate geography, and increase their overall competitiveness. We’re also planning to provide free domain registration for one year for those qualifying SMEs who want to create a professional website. This online hub will initially be available in Morocco and South Africa and will expand to other markets over time.
Developing Africa’s business and thought leaders
The Afrika Academy is another new initiative under the 4Afrika banner aimed specifically at capacity building and skills development. It 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. Training through the Afrika Academy will be made available starting in March at no cost to higher education students, government elites and the Microsoft partner community.
Why are we doing this now? When we look at the world, many see China or the BRIC countries as the next big opportunity for growth. At Microsoft, we view the African continent as a game-changer in the global economy. We believe deeply in the potential of technology to change Africa, and we equally believe in the potential of Africa to change technology for the world. We are honored to plant this new seed for Africa, and together with our network of partners, we look forward to the next 20 years of growing amazing opportunities for the continent.
For more information, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/4Afrika.
Posted by Robert Kayihura Director - Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Microsoft understands the importance of small and medium businesses (SMBs) to Africa’s economy, which is why in November we launched Keep Your Business Moving. This online program is designed to provide advice to SMB owners as well as the budding entrepreneurs that are key to Africa’s economic future – and as we enter 2013, that future looks very bright.
With a 5.3% increase in GDP expected in 2013, sub-Saharan Africa’s economy is booming. It’s been largely exempt from many of the economic factors affecting much of the Western world, meaning it’s increasingly attractive to outside investors. However, it’s worth noting that the real clout of Africa’s economy comes from SMBs, which account for 50% of African employment and add 20% to the continent’s GDP.
Running an SMB is challenging anywhere in the world, but doing so in Africa means facing up to a unique set of challenges. From a computing point of view, the top three barriers to entry are prohibitively expensive hardware, inaccessible software and, most importantly of all, a non-existent or nascent IT and broadband infrastructure – but Microsoft is committed to help through the provision of innovative solutions and programs like BizSpark and DreamSpark, which provide young businesses, students and Academic institutions with free access to developer tools and platform licenses.
To combat expensive hardware concerns, for example, SMBs can use Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 to virtualize one computer into 10 or more workstations. Not only does this reduce hardware and software costs, but energy consumption and maintenance costs can shrink by 80%. This, combined with a 3G mobile internet connection, allows Africa’s SMBs to conduct business with the rest of the world, even if the landline infrastructure is fragile.
Furthermore, Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps software start-ups to succeed by giving them access to software development tools for free. Again, this gives African SMBs and entrepreneurs the tools they need in order to conduct their business.
Another challenge facing Africa’s digital development is skills – not in having good ideas for businesses, but rather how to develop these ideas using modern digital tools. The solution lies in providing training for people, and the youth in particular, to teach them how to use technologies that many of them have never experienced before.
And when it comes to training and providing access to information and tools, a little can really go a long way – particularly when it comes to young people. During a trip to Malawi last year, for example, my colleagues witnessed how quickly young minds absorb information when they witnessed girls from the rural area of Chikwawa, who had never even seen a computer before, learn how to use one and put together their own CVs - in just one day.
So although there is still much to do before Africa realises its full digital potential, initiatives such as Keep Your Business Moving and BizSpark are already making a difference. And by demonstrating the power of computers and making hardware and software more accessible, we are excited to be playing a part in inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs and SMBs.
Posted by Dora Mbuyi Marketing Communications & CPE Lead
Customer support has always been a core focus for Microsoft. The recent roll-out of more local support numbers in Africa is yet another important milestone for us. By expanding our local dedicated support services in Africa to include Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Ivory Coast, and Namibia; we are underscoring our commitment to the continent.
Evolving to meet customer demand
Looking back over Microsoft’s history, it’s clear that as the company has grown and evolved, so has our support base.
- In 1975, customer support consisted of just two people, Bill Gates and Paul Allen.- In 1990, with the launch of Windows 3.0, we had just 500 support personnel in place. - By 1995, we were providing support in 29 languages. - We went on to launch online support services, and later launched support services on Twitter.
Fast-forward to 2012 and we now have 90 000 employees in over 190 countries supporting and developing varied products and services for our customers and partners. This is not where it ends though. Our roll-out of local support service in Africa is just another step in our evolution to offer customer support services that reflect the diversity and geographic breadth of our customers and partners.
Posted by Anthony SalcitoVice President of Worldwide Education, Microsoft
Originally posted on Microsoft on the Issues One of the profound privileges of my job is that, every year around this same time, we host the Partners in Learning Global forum – this is the Olympics of innovative education. All of the participants (nearly 500 educators from more than 80 countries) are remarkable, but it gave me chills Saturday night as I watched a teacher from Pakistan – a woman named Munazza Riaz – take the stage and receive the equivalent of the gold medal for education. She beamed as she held up the flag of her nation. Consider the enormous challenges and obstacles Munazza must have overcome to reach this moment. And yet, she is just one teacher – an island of excellence amidst an ocean of schools who don’t have these opportunities – due to lack of training and lack of digital access. There is a lot of talk these days about the cloud. While the cloud offers enormous promise, the reality is that, without access, that promise is empty. In countries like Haiti and throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, 90 percent of rural schools have no electricity. Without power, digital access is a non-starter. And the opportunity divide for young people widens every day. Nearly one billion young people today face this opportunity divide – a gap between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Recently, Steve Ballmer announced YouthSpark, a companywide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world, helping transform education and expand digital inclusion to empower youth to change their world. We firmly believe in the power of technology to help close this gap and one of the ways we can move forward is through partnerships. That’s why we are making a $75 Million commitment to unite with six of the strongest humanitarian organizations in the world – World Vision, British Council, SOS Children’s Villages, Plan International, International Rescue Committee and Catholic Relief Services – to tackle education inequalities and close the divide. The $75 million commitment is in addition to the $250 million, five-year renewal of the company’s flagship Partners in Learning program we announced this past week, a reflection of our commitment to holistic transformation of education systems around the world through digital access to youth and capacity building for educators. An example of this work – Spark a Child’s Digital Future www.worldvision.org/bethespark – has launched in Kenya, scaling across Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond over the next five years. For $100, individual donors can help ensure that young people in Africa cross the opportunity divide through a holistic approach including not only a device and connectivity, but comprehensive training and professional development for teachers and school leadership. I want to share a story that illustrates how this model can work in some of the most challenging environments on the planet. Our team recently visited Kisapuk community school in rural Kenya. The school sits 35 kilometers off the nearest paved road. There is no electricity available within 30 square kilometers of the site. However, thanks to our partnership with World Vision, the school has been successfully operating an innovative learning lab, running off solar and 3G Internet access. Amazingly, the school has been self-sufficient for more than two years, earning more than $200 a month in income (after expenses), thanks to cell-phone charging services, printing and offline as well as online learning services. This is in part made possible via a blended model including Windows MultiPoint Server – which virtualizes one computer into 10 or more workstations – dramatically dropping the cost of hardware as well as reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs by 80 percent. In the latest version of the product, which was released this past week, schools like Kisapuk now have a means to accelerate learning inside and outside the classroom by layering in a 1:1. WMS 2012 allows teachers to layer on classroom management, wirelessly orchestrating the entire learning environment from a single interface. It’s incredibly inspiring that the exact same classroom environment deployed in schools within a 5-mile radius of the Microsoft campus is affordable and practical enough for the least-resourced schools on the planet like Kisapuk. As I reflect on the host of innovative educators around the world who are accomplishing amazing achievements in the classroom, I am filled with hope. Together with inspiring leaders like Munazza, along with our partners, we will bridge the opportunity divide, equipping the next generation of leaders with the tools they need for a brighter future.
By Dele AkinsadeDeveloper Platform Lead, West, East, Central Africa & Indian Ocean Islands
The launch of Windows 8 on October 26th was definitely one of the most exciting days of my career so far. Why? Well, you may already know that I am incredibly passionate about developers and the potential that exists for them to make a lasting positive contribution to Africa. And to me, the launch of Windows 8 was a single moment in time that I believe represented the opening of an enormous ‘window’ of opportunity across the continent.
We already know how many talented developers we have in Africa. We have seen them demonstrate that they are ready to compete globally during events like Imagine Cup, DEMO Africa, our Developer Camps, and through the many excellent Windows Phone 7 apps that have been developed by African developers, which we have showcased through our ‘Developer of the Week’ campaign.
But now, developers, you are faced with an opportunity like no other.
Apps are at the centre of the Windows 8 experience. And we all know that the more locally relevant the app, the more useful it is to the user.
So, quite simply: You have the potential to shape the way Africa experiences Windows 8.
You have the ability to be part of the reason Windows 8 will be the most relevant version of Windows in Africa yet.
And, you have the chance to come up with apps that will address uniquely African challenges, as well as the opportunity to sell globally relevant apps to customers in over 200 markets.
With a global marketplace waiting for your apps, the best tools available for you to use, and a good financial model – the only thing left for you to do is to get going!
I can’t wait to see what the African developer community has in store for us :)
Akinwale Ariwodola is a Nigerian based developer and has already developed three Windows 8 apps: MovieTimes, ClassicRSS and Slyde.
Where to start1. Register for BizSpark, so one of our network partners can provide you access to the development tools you need.2. Visit the Windows 8 Dev Centre to get the downloads you need
Posted by Jean-Philippe CourtoisPresident of Microsoft International
Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting two African countries – Morocco and Ivory Coast – meeting with business, academic and government leaders in each. My agenda for both countries focused firmly on three topics which are all top of mind in nearly every country I visit in the world: education, employability and cloud computing.
In Rabat, Morocco I gave an address to 1,000 engineering students at l’Ecole Mohammedia des Ingénieurs in Rabat, encouraging them to take advantage of the many free technologies and programs available to them through Microsoft initiatives like DreamSpark and BizSpark and to get involved in this year’s Imagine Cup, our annual “World Cup” of software development that encourages students to build technology solutions to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.
Jean-Philippe Courtois, Samir Benmakhlouf and top Microsoft Student Partners from l’Ecole Mohammedia des Ingénieurs
I was also very proud to announce, along with our Country Manager Samir Benmakhlouf and the Institut Royal de la Culture Amazighe, the integration of the Amazigh language into Windows 8. This language is spoken by roughly 20 million people in Morocco and Algeria, and this integration will enable them all to easily engage in the digital world through Windows 8.
In Ivory Coast, I was thrilled to join our Country Manager Simon Ouattara to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of ICT through which we will jointly provide 500,000 PCs loaded with Microsoft software, including Windows and Office, to Ivorian citizens, with 100,000 of those to be delivered in the next year. As part of the same agreement and in alignment with YouthSpark, our recently announced global initiative to help 300 million youth globally in the next three years to realize their full potential, we are also extending our digital literacy efforts and our Students to Business program in the country, which will help Ivorian students get jobs with local Microsoft partners.
Bruno Koné, Minister of ICT for Ivory Coast, Jean-Philippe Courtois and Simon Ouattara
My second opportunity to connect with students was at Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny de Cocody in Abidjan, where I announced a deal that will provide 100,000 students from five of Ivory Coast’s top universities with access to Live@EDU and the Microsoft IT Academy, to enable them to earn Microsoft certifications to help bolster their employability. As this country rebuilds, we believe these investments will play an important role in developing local leaders and business owners.
Overall, it was truly fantastic to be back on the continent connecting with so many customers, partners, students and our own teams who bring such passion to everything they do. We see tremendous potential in Africa and are deeply committed to strengthening and extending our presence and efforts to help all Africans realise their full potential.
Posted by Louis OtienoRegional Director, Business Development & Strategy for Microsoft Africa
Original source: This is Africa - Where Have Africa's Future Builders Gone?
"Young people around the world are facing an emerging opportunity divide between those who have access to a good education, the skills and connections to be successful and those who do not."
The Education for All and Millennium Development Goals were set out in 2000, but twelve years on the world is a very different place. Looking around us, there is a great deal of uncertainty. The economic and political landscape of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) continues to evolve following the Arab Spring. A global recession is exacerbating existing unemployment issues, even where the effects of the downturn are less evident, such as sub-Saharan Africa.
In particular, youth unemployment is growing across the region, and this presents a huge problem. We absolutely must not lose sight of the young people who will help shape the economies of tomorrow. These ‘future builders’ have the potential to challenge the status quo, yet in a shrinking labour market their options are becoming increasingly limited. Set to play a critical role in economic revival, our future builders need our support. How can we fashion a more inclusive economy?
Posted by John Nielsen
GM, EMEA Customer Service and Support
Around this time last year, I accompanied a team of ten Microsoft engineers from the EMEA Customer Service and Support team to Blantyre in Malawi to help launch the Malawi Learning Partnership. We installed a network to connect four schools to allow teachers, students and partners to collaborate and enhance education in Malawi.
The impact the trip had on us, and the huge difference we realised we could make in just over one week, led us to return this year to provide more support to the Malawi Learning Partnership and schools in Blantyre. The team set up IT labs, fixed computers, conducted DigiGirlz workshops, and trained 23 teachers, working tirelessly every day to make sure they reached as many schools as possible. They found solutions to new challenges, were inspired by some of the amazing stories they encountered, and all returned home with a slightly different perspective on life.
23 teachers from 13 different schools were trained on how to set up their own school IT labs, basic troubleshooting and computer maintenance
A few things in particular stood out for me this year:
1. The astonishing pace at which children learn: We all know that children have an enormous capacity to learn, far outweighing that of adults. But, time and time again I am surprised at just how much a child can learn in a short space of time. At one of the DigiGirlz events we held this year for girls from the rural area of Chikwawa, we saw young girls who had never even seen a computer before learning how to use one and put together their own CVs - in just one day.
The DigiGirlz session held at Fishermen's Rest for girls from Chikwawa
2. The power of partnership: We brought 13 of our top engineers from across the world to bring their valuable expertise to help with training and networking for the Malawi Learning Partnership. But without the support of other partners, like St Andrews’ International School, Access Communications, and The Malawi WiFi Project - these kinds of projects would simply not be possible. We also donated 40 laptops to two schools in Malawi to help them expand their computer labs – but it will be our partners providing WiFi and 3Gconnectivity, as well as the teachers, who we rely on to make sure that our donation makes the biggest impact possible in these schools.
3. Excitement is as important as infrastructure: Setting up IT labs and connecting schools is important but unless we build excitement around technology, Malawi will never have enough technology-skilled people to help drive the economy forward. Motivating teachers, showing children what they can create with technology, and giving them the confidence to use computers are important ways of giving young people a glimpse of how technology can positively impact their future. We reached over 120 girls during our seven DigiGirlz events in Malawi in an effort to give young girls a taste of the type of jobs they can pursue in the technology industry.
One of the girls at the DigiGirlz workshop at Samaritans Trust
And lastly, the non-tech focused part of our trip reminded us once again how the simplest measures can change lives. We saw this first hand when we visited the 10 boreholes the team had raised money to build and repair in the southern region of Malawi, TA Mphuka. Through our efforts to raise money through friends, family and colleagues, we have ensured that 2500 people will have access to clean water.
For more pictures and videos of our journey in Malawi, take a look at the Microsoft EMEA CSS: Malawi 2.0 Facebook page.
Posted by Dele Akinsade Developer and Platform Evangelist, West, East and Central Africa
I can’t believe Imagine Cup 2012 has come and gone again, after months of build-up and excitement. It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to be part of the journey and to engage with the talented African teams that made it to the finals in Sydney.
Team Gravity from Nigeria at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Sydney
I must congratulate the winners of this year’s Imagine Cup, particularly the overall winner, Team QuadSquad from the Ukraine, who developed an amazing innovation: gloves that translate sign language into speech. Well done to the Egyptian and Algerian teams who won awards in the IT Challenge, Windows Phone challenge, and Windows Azure challenge, as well as the African teams that participated from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.
Special mention must go to Team Cipher256 from Uganda, who made it to the Top 20, despite not being able to be physically present in Sydney and having to present their project, an affordable mobile antenatal diagnosis solution, to the judges via Live Meeting.
Each year, during the months leading up to Imagine Cup, I am filled with pride when I see the quality of the projects developed by students across Africa, and hope and excitement at their prospects in the competition.
Team Sen Section from Senegal at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Sydney
But what excites me most is what happens after the competition is over, when the excitement dies down, and everybody gets back to real life.
I recently checked in with some of the finalists from last year’s worldwide finals, and was thrilled to find out how well they are doing. Team Nerds from Nigeria, for example, has already started their own company and is working on a new web application that allows teachers to develop and customise lessons for their students using high quality multimedia tools. Several members of the other finalist teams from last year are working on their own startups, while others are pursuing their studies with the confidence of knowing what they are already capable of.
This is the real value of Imagine Cup: the unique experience it offers, the networking opportunities, and the confidence it instills in participants.
Team E-Soft from Côte d’Ivoire at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Sydney
I want to encourage this year’s finalist teams not to see this as the end of journey, but as the beginning of one – it’s now time for you to really shine, pursue your dreams, and take what you have learned to help shape Africa’s future.
And lastly, I want to call upon African students to start thinking of new ways of using technology to help solve Africa’s challenges. You could join us in St Petersburg, Russia next year for the 2013 Imagine Cup Finals!
To keep up with next year’s Imagine Cup news from Africa, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
By Ghada Khalifa, Citizenship and Community Affairs lead, Microsoft Egypt
Working in community affairs in Egypt, particularly in the areas of youth education and job support, has been my passion and privilege for many years. Youth unemployment in Egypt stood at 25% in 2010 and evidence suggests that it has risen in the months since the Revolution. The youth unemployment rate in North Africa as a whole is 27%, according to the ILO Global Employment Trends for Youth 2012 report, and has been consistently high for two decades. These numbers are worrisome, and they show that my area of work is critical to securing the future prosperity of the region and its young inhabitants. I spend a lot of time with young people in Egypt, many of whom were the driving force behind the Revolution, and I hear the same things over and over - they go through many training programs, but they simply can't find jobs. The level of frustration and disillusionment among youth here, who have strong ambition and skills and who will ultimately lead the region’s future, is a major concern.
By collaborating with partners and social enterprise organisations to help improve the employability of Egyptian youth, Microsoft is determined to change the situation. This spring, we launched the first Arabic employment resource portal for Egyptian youth - MasrWorks - which offers resources ranging from online career guidance, employability and entrepreneurship training, to specific work experience and job opportunities.
Youth programs from recent years, despite significant investment by various organisations, have failed to deliver sufficient impact on the young community. Research on curricula in Egypt showed that at least ten agencies developed similar programs, but they simply did not reach enough people. MasrWorks, however, is not just another online portal. It takes a comprehensive approach towards Egyptian youth empowerment and employment, so job seekers can make a successful transition into the world of work.
As a national portal, MasrWorks is designed to reach wider audiences with resources tailored to language levels, skill levels and social opportunities in the country. We are working with our public and private sector partners to help youth realize their opportunities and truly fulfil their potential. Just an example - we found that a lot of people end up in careers they aren’t passionate about. So Microsoft provides mentorship resources, something I highly valued myself at early stages of my own career. We also help young people develop business skills, without which they can struggle to find employment.
Since the launch in April there have been over 45,000 page views of the website, and there are currently more than 1,200 active MasrWorks users. New users view and join the site every day and we often get positive feedback from users who are learning they have new strengths in the workplace. I am really proud of the work we have done with MasrWorks. I even submitted a short video about eSkills training programs including MasrWorks into the Microsoft Next competition and I won a prize! Microsoft Next is an internal programme to celebrate innovation within the company, so it’s great to see these important initiatives are really appreciated within Microsoft. After all, MasrWorks is as a great example of how we can support workforce development and use technology to empower young people and help shape the future of the next generation in Egypt. North Africa is poised to re-create its prospects and supporting the ‘future builders’, the young people who will go on to lead businesses and future governments, is vital for laying the best foundations today.