BY EMEKA AGINAM
With strong partnerships from both public and private sectors as well as collaboration from all sectors of the Nigerian society, the General Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Kabelo Makwane, at the weekend said that technology innovation was essential requisites for the country to realize vision 20:2020.
Kabelo who stated this in his welcome address at the 2nd edition of the Innovation Forum on the held last week at the Tinapa Lakeside Hotel, Calabar, Cross Rivers State told the gathering that Microsoft was committed to growing the African market especially Nigeria which is the now the fastest growing economy in the continent.
The Nigerian Innovation Forum 2014 was focused on creating a cross-industry business alliance to support and harness innovation in Africa to increase the continent’s competitiveness, as well as the national competitiveness of Nigeria specifically.
The key themes for the Nigerian Innovation Forum 2014 reflect two of the key areas the forum’s partners believe ICT can play a critical role in driving innovation and competitiveness, namely: Agriculture Entrepreneurship and ‘Education for Employment’ with Power as a key enabler for both focus areas and sectors.
While commending the government of Cross River State for inclusive and participatory approach to governance, which is evidently seen through ICT- led education projects, he said that, “We believe that by helping people reach their full potential, our business will naturally benefit their economic prosperity.
“We have invested heavily in ensuring that we have a good impact on the local economy. This includes job creation, support for the youth in Nigeria, software donations to NGOs and the development of local innovation”
He informed that Microsoft has a strong, successful 22 year history in Africa, adding that over these years, the company has aligned its business and citizenship initiatives with the national priorities of Nigeria, and will continue to do so, which is reflected in forum themes.
“As part of our new business strategy, we are looking to shape our next 20 years on the continent through the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, which we launched 1 year ago, signaling an increased focus on improving African competitiveness and accelerating economic growth and development on the Continent – an Initiative that has three pillars: 21st century world-class skills, providing affordable access and fostering local innovation” he explained.
Through many interventions, he said that Microsoft has mentored over 50 startups through Microsoft BizSpark, one of which is Gamesole owned by Abiola Olaniran who published what’s known to be the first gaming app from West Africa to hit 6 million downloads globally from the Windows store and engineered an innovative business of selling in-app content, continues to see this company being profitable.
According to him, “We’ve contributed to 45 000 jobs created within the Microsoft ecosystem of partners. $2.4 million donated in cash and software to local non-profit organisations, 5 000 of our Nigerian students are changing the world through Imagine Cup, 70 000 teachers trained through Microsoft Partners in Learning, 15 Badiliko Digital Hubs created in collaboration with the British Council, Digital access for 100 000 young people through our Shape the Future, $1 million data analytics and decision tool to support the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)’s, $500 million invested to curb HIV/Aids in Nigeria through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 75 000 students using our Office 365 software in Education for free, among others.