Nigeria gets Microsoft’s $200m African Development Centre

By Felicia Nwosu

Microsoft, the global technology giant has announced the opening of its first African engineering tech hub, the African Development Centre in Nigeria. The initiative which rolled off with a current investment worth about 200 million dollars is aimed at positioning the sector as a prominent foreign exchange earner in Nigeria especially now that the future of fossil oil is very bleak. It is also expected to help in tackling unemployment which is plaguing the country as it aims to train five million citizens and provide 27,000 jobs over the next three years.

The official opening of the facility which was done in Lagos had Professor Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy representing the President. He thereafter led the Microsoft team to Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari.

The President received the Microsoft team, led by Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft Corporation, accompanied by Professor Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy at the State House, Abuja recently.

The President who lauded Microsoft’s skilling initiative and digital transformational move called for more investment in the nation’s digital space.

“I have been informed that the African Development Centre in Nigeria is Microsoft’s first engineering hub in Africa as the current investment stands at about $200 million. These initiatives are commendable and I urge you to expand them and continue to prioritize Nigeria as you roll out your global initiatives.’’

He also reaffirmed that Nigeria’s huge population plays a crucial role in expanding the digital space. President Buhari noted that Nigeria is positioned to play a strategic role in the global technology ecosystem and seek the right partnerships to harness its potential. The Nigerian leader emphasised that one of such key partnerships centers on capacity building. He reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the notion of ease of doing business in Nigeria is continually enhanced for all to thrive.

“As the fastest-growing sector of the Nigerian economy in 2020, the Information and Communications Technology sector played a very important role in supporting our country to exit the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are keen to build on the momentum as we continue to implement our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, along with other related policies.

Brad Smith, President of Microsoft and Vice Executive Chairman who presented a book to the President said the company will keep creating jobs to help build technology that will change the world, noting that the “multi-tasking approach’’ also stretches to digital infrastructure.

“We pledge to train five million people in Nigeria in the future,’’ Smith said, noting “60,000 people had already enrolled for courses while 300,000 had completed various courses.’’

Apart from the partnership in the area of skills building, President Buhari said he looked forward to further partnerships that will support the digital infrastructure and innovation ecosystem, regarding emerging technologies.

“We have the potential of becoming your most lucrative market in Africa.  As such, we urge you to continue to support the development of our digital economy. We also urge you to step up your Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and support for Research and Development that will enhance your services in Nigeria and on the African continent,’’ the President said.





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