Microsoft Introduces the 4Afrika Initiative to Help Improve the Continent's Global Competitiveness

 Microsoft Introduces the 4Afrika Initiative to Help Improve the Continent's
                            Global Competitiveness

Efforts focus 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.

PR Newswire

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 4, 2013

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Microsoft Corp. today introduced
the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, a new effort through which the company will
actively engage in Africa's economic development to improve its global
competitiveness. By 2016, the 4Afrika Initiative plans to help place tens of
millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth, bring 1 million
African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online, upskill 100,000
members of Africa's existing workforce, and help an additional 100,000 recent
graduates develop employability skills, 75 percent of whom Microsoft will help
place in jobs.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO)

"The world has recognized the promise of Africa, and Microsoft wants to invest
in that promise. We want 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," said Fernando
de Sousa, general manager, 4Afrika Initiative. "The 4Afrika Initiative is
built on the dual beliefs that technology can accelerate growth for Africa,
and Africa can also accelerate technology for the world."

As a first critical step toward increasing the adoption of smart devices,
Microsoft and Huawei are introducing the Huawei 4Afrika, a full-functionality
Windows Phone 8, which will come preloaded with select applications designed
for Africa. The phone will initially be available in Angola, Egypt, Ivory
Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa later this month. The Huawei
4Afrika phone, which is the first in a series of smart devices designed
"4Afrika," will be targeted toward university students, developers and
first-time smartphone users to ensure they have affordable access to
best-in-class technology to enable them to connect, collaborate, and access
markets and opportunities online. (See related release and blog.)

To improve technology access, Microsoft also announced the deployment of a
pilot project with the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications and
Kenyan Internet service provider Indigo Telecom Ltd. to deliver low-cost,
high-speed, wireless broadband and create new opportunities for commerce,
education, healthcare and delivery of government services across Kenya. The
deployment is called "Mawingu," which is Kiswahili for cloud. It is the first
deployment of solar-powered base stations working together with TV white
spaces, a technology partially developed by Microsoft Research, to deliver
high-speed Internet access to areas currently lacking even basic electricity.
Microsoft hopes to implement similar pilots in East and Southern Africa in the
coming months to further explore the commercial feasibility of TV white space
technology. These pilots will be used to encourage other African countries to
accelerate legislation that would enable this TV white space technology to
deliver on the promise of universal access for Africa. (See related release
and blog.)

To help empower African SMEs, Microsoft announced a new SME Online Hub through
which African SMEs will have access to free, relevant products and services
from Microsoft and other partners. The hub will aggregate the available
services, which can help SMEs expand their businesses locally, find new
business opportunities outside their immediate geographies and help increase
their overall competitiveness. As a welcome offer, Microsoft will provide free
domain registration for one year and free tools for SMEs interested in
creating a professional Web presence. The hub is expected to initially open in
April in South Africa and Morocco and will expand to other African markets
over time.

To accelerate capacity building and skills development, Microsoft has
established the Afrika Academy, an education platform leveraging 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 available starting in March at no cost to recent higher
education graduates, government leaders and the Microsoft partner community.
One of the first offline training sessions will take place with
Microsoft-managed partners in Ivory Coast in the coming months, focusing on
capacity building in business and technical skills for Microsoft's partners in
Francophone West Africa.

The 4Afrika Initiative will be tightly connected to Microsoft's network of
more than 10,000 existing partners in Africa today, a network it has built
through more than 20 years of investing and operating in the continent. The
4Afrika Initiative will leverage these existing partnerships and create new
ones across the public and private sectors to help advance common goals and to
create value for Africans. Together with its partners, Microsoft has initiated
various other efforts in recent months as part of the 4Afrika Initiative:

  oAppFactory (South Africa and Egypt). Microsoft is hiring 30 paid student
    interns to staff the AppFactory — centers to which the public can submit
    requests for Africa-relevant Windows applications (Windows 8 or Windows
    Phone). These requests are being crowdsourced for voting, and the most
    popular ideas are assigned development resources to build and launch the
    apps in the Windows Store. Already, the AppFactory teams have built 73
    Windows apps and 39 Windows Phone apps, and at full capacity, the teams
    plan to contribute approximately 90 new apps to the Windows Store per
    month.
  oNokia and Windows Phone user training (Kenya and Nigeria). Microsoft has
    established agreements with Safaricom in Kenya and Bharti Airtel in
    Nigeria to accelerate local adoption of the Nokia Lumia 510 and Nokia
    Lumia 620 Windows Phones. In Nigeria, 95 percent of phones sold are
    feature phones. Through these agreements, Microsoft is funding in-store
    training for consumers who purchase these Nokia models with a data plan.
    The training explains the benefits of owning a smartphone, helping make
    these smartphones better understood and, therefore, more desirable for
    consumers.
  oFemale empowerment portal (North Africa). This portal targeted at North
    African women will launch in March as an offshoot of the MasrWorks IT
    skills portal. It 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. It will provide IT skills
    training and softer-skills training on topics including leadership,
    self-confidence and interviewing, as well as the mentorship needed to
    build a long-term career in technology. The mentorship will be provided
    via a sustained engagement between Microsoft, its partners, a local NGO
    and the beneficiaries to support them in career building and to plan their
    role in society as female leaders.

"We believe there has never been a better time to invest in Africa and that
access to technology — particularly cloud services and smart devices — can and
will serve as a great accelerator for African competitiveness," said
Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International. "The launches of
Windows 8 and many other new products in the coming months represent a new era
for Microsoft, which we believe will redefine the technology industry
globally. These additional investments under the 4Afrika banner will help
define our company's new era in Africa."

Simultaneous launch events to kick off this new era in Africa are taking place
today in five locations spanning the continent: Cairo; Abidjan, Ivory Coast;
Lagos, Nigeria; Nairobi, Kenya; and Johannesburg. In all locations except for
Cairo, Microsoft will also be hosting separate developer workshops in the
coming weeks to facilitate and accelerate the development of new and
innovative Windows applications for Africa, by Africans.

More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/4Afrika.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software,
services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full
potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

Website: http://www.microsoft.com
Contact: Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, +1-503-443-7070,
rrt@waggeneredstrom.com
 
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