January, 2010

  • ICT in Africa, A Central Theme at the African Union Heads of State Summit This Month

    This week at the African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa leaders from the continent are meeting on the theme of: “Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa: challenges and prospects for development.” Growing out of an increased recognition that technology is a critical element in supporting regional economic growth and competitiveness, the aim is to determine concrete action for the establishment of an Africa-wide information society.

    The Heads of State will discuss the development of a harmonized policy framework for the ICT sector, and the development of national ICT promotion plans. It is expected that this will result in commitments to create an enabling environment for ICT development in order to promote investment in the sector and build infrastructure.
    Microsoft has been a long time believer in the power of ICT to help regions develop internally and through sustainable means, especially by supporting local entrepreneurship and the growth of a local software economy.

    Dr. Cheick Diarra, Microsoft Chairman for Africa, attended the opening session of the Summit. In September 2009 he co-chaired the EU-Africa Business Forum, also attended by many of the same African leaders, which provided recommendations on how ICT can be leveraged as a critical backbone of economic development and regional integration—among other factors like trade, entrepreneurship, infrastructure and energy. 

    In Dr. Diarra’s own words:

    “We are at the cusp of a transformation here in Africa. We are witnessing how investment, development and technology are helping to harness Africa’s abundant human capital, and helping create an environment in which rural and urban communities can realize their potential.
    But to realize the potential of the broad range of technologies – mobile phones, computers, software and the Internet – resources must be matched by resourcefulness. The most constructive applications of technology will be the ones that are combined with initiatives by public-private partnerships, government leaders, educators and entrepreneurs.”
    On the sidelines of the event, Microsoft signed new partnership agreements with three inter-governmental organizations to support the promotion of ICT and ICT policy in Africa: the World Bank, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the East African Community (EAC).

  • Microsoft Helps Latin American Political Leaders Advance ICT

    In 2005, Microsoft started working with the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) of the George Washington University in Washington, DC on a program supported by the Andean Development Corporation to incorporate an ICT and Governability content module into the school’s special program on Governability and Political Management.

    The ICT module, created with help from Microsoft, has been instituted in the school’s various seminar sessions in Washington D.C. and Peru. Its goal is to help close the digital gap in Latin America and the Caribbean by training political leaders to incorporate ICT at the government level and to familiarize their citizens with it.

    By the beginning of 2008, approximately thousand students from the region – mostly professionals receiving additional training – had participated in the program and enrollment rates continue to grow. GSPM is in talks for expansion to all Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as Spain and Russia.

  • Technology Helps Peru Preserve Quechua Language

    In Peru, more than three million people speak Quechua, making the language the most common language of the indigenous people of the Americas.  While Quechua has a rich and vibrant history that has carried forward with the vast numbers of people who speak the language today, that legacy has not always translated into modern technology.

    As part of its Local Language Program, Microsoft partnered with three universities in Peru to translate Microsoft® Windows® and Microsoft Office into Quechua. Using these programs, students of Incan descent now have access to software in their native language and can communicate with people worldwide.

    With their improved technical skills, Quechua speaking students now have greater opportunity to enter the workforce, become professionals, and contribute to the well-being of their communities.

    Thanks to the Microsoft Local Language Program, students of Incan descent can embrace their heritage and traditions, learn, and connect with the rest of the world.

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