" ITREALMS: 45m Africans to benefit from Microsoft deals

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

45m Africans to benefit from Microsoft deals

Remmy Nweke

ESTIMATED 45 million Africans are billed to benefit from series of partnership deals between Microsoft Corporation and some African governments, agencies and United Nations (UN) entities before the end of 2010.

The deals, known as Public and Private Partnerships (PPP) include collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

Microsoft Chairman, Mr. Bill Gates gave this indication at the just concluded Microsoft Government Leaders Forum for Africa 2006, held in Cape Town, South Africa.

The event also graced by former United States (US) President, Bill Clinton, highlighted the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and public-private partnerships in creating change and a strong, vibrant future across the continent among developing countries.

In his keynote, Mr Gates pointed out that Microsoft’s long-term approach to investment in Africa, includes collaborations with local and global organisations.

Through these partnerships, he said, the company planned to deliver the benefits of ICT training to more than 45 million people in Africa by 2010 and help governments create sustainable economic growth.

“For Africa to truly become competitive in the global economy, strategic collaboration between businesses, governments and non-governmental organisations is essential,” he said.

Emphasising that by this single step more affordable access to technology and helping partners build strong local software economies, “Microsoft could help create knowledge-based economies on the continent that will generate new jobs and offer new opportunities for growth, prosperity and innovation.”

Former US President, Mr. Clinton, said, "Technology has expanded opportunities of millions of people around the world and — whether expanding access to information, education or healthcare or increasing the collective power of individuals — it has an important role to play in creating a thriving, competitive Africa."

According to him, with efforts from the likes of Bill Gates and companies like Microsoft, partnering with governments, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) and other private-sector organisations, are helping Africa in its push to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In support of the eight MDGs, Microsoft’s efforts in Africa focuses on investments in education to increase skills and create opportunities, partnering with local businesses to increase trade and grow local industries and software economies, and working with government to develop ICT infrastructure through affordability and access.

The MDGs form a blueprint agreed to by UN countries and leading global development institutions. The MDGs range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education by 2015.

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