American multinational technology company, Microsoft has unveiled plans to invest $100m in its new Africa Development Centre that aims to accelerate digital transformation, bridge gaps in infrastructure, connectivity and innovation capability on the continent in the next five years.
At the unveiling of the new centre located in Lagos on Friday, the company said it would recruit 100 engineering talents in artificial intelligence, machine learning and mixed reality by the end of the year.
According to the global tech company, the centre in Kenya and Nigeria, will increase Microsoft presence in Africa and empower partners as they use Microsoft solutions in like FinTech, AgriTech and OffGrid energy.
“The ADC will be unlike any other existing investment on the continent. It will help us better listen to our customers, develop locally and scale for global impact,” Executive Sponsor of the ADC and executive vice- president at Microsoft, Phil Spencer.
“Beyond that, it’s an opportunity to engage more with local partners, academia, governments and developers – driving impact and innovation in sectors important to Africa.”
To support the development of these required skills, Microsoft said it would form partnership with local universities to create a modern intelligent edge and cloud curriculum, unique to Africa. It added that graduates from top Nigerian engineering universities would have access to the ADC to build relevant and meaningful careers in data science, AI, mixed reality, application development and more.
A Professor of Computer Science, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Kayode Alese, said, “For more than 20 years, I have taught computer science to enthusiastic African students, but still Africa has been referred to as the last technology frontier. The fact Microsoft has taken the giant step of setting up its first development centre in Nigeria is a testament to the huge talent base that exists in our academic institutions. It is a great time to be a Nigerian.”
“We have already started our work in Nigeria around our mixed reality offering and I am very much looking forward to the kind of innovation that will come from the ADC,” Technical Fellow at Microsoft and the lead in establishing the first engineering team in Lagos, Alex Kipman, said. “I am looking to learn, understand, and work hard so that we can grow together organically.”
“Microsoft recently opened its first hyper-scale data centres in Africa, and this next milestone is particularly significant for Nigeria,” Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, Akin Banuso, said.
“The reason we selected Nigeria as one of the first ADC sites is to better understand a continent that is rapidly adopting cloud technology and innovation at the intelligent edge. We view Nigeria as a leading regional digital innovation hub, and the ADC aims to invest in and accelerate the work being done here.”
Microsoft has operated on the continent for more than 25 years, building partnerships to bridge the gaps in infrastructure, connectivity and capability to accelerate innovation.