Launched by Microsoft on Tuesday (5 February 2012), 4Afrika looks to 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, and bring one million African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online.
It also hopes to upskill 100,000 members of Africa’s existing workforce, and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop employability skills, 75% of whom Microsoft will help place in jobs.
Speaking at the 4Afrika launch event in Johannesburg, Microsoft SA managing director, Mteto Nyati explained that the initiative was a purely African project, born from Africans to tackle African problems.
“We (Africans) are consumers of other people’s intellectual property – that’s not good. We have to turn this around,” the MD said.
To drive this change, Microsoft is equipping Africans with the tools to “[help] our (African) countries to be globally competitive.”
“This is just the beginning,” Nyati said.
Looking at South Africa
Speaking specifically about the 4Africa initiative in South Africa, Nyati said that the 4Afrika initiative would work in line with the National Development Plan with a vision for 2030.
However, instead of focussing on all aspects of the NDP, 4Afrika would focus on one key area in South Africa: unemployment.
“We are 19 years into our democracy…the only thing that can ruin this miracle (of South Africa)..is the huge problem of unemployment amongst the youth,” Nyati said.
Through the 4Africa initiative, Microsoft South Africa is looking to:
- Develop 700+ app per year through the Application Factory;
- Employ 3,000 graduates within the Microsoft ecosystem;
- Boost 200 startups in small and medium enterprises – while supporting over 100,000, giving them opportunity to grow.
To do this, Nyati said Microsoft SA would work with government to make the Internet more accessible to the population.
Support from government
Speaking at the event, deputy minister of communications, Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams pledged support for the initiative, on behalf of government.
“We need to make technology affordable, available and accessible,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
“Through improving accessiblity to ICT, we can tackle a lot of challenges – such as in education.”
The deputy minister acknowledged a number of challenges South Africa faced, but said that she needed to remind everyone that “we need to calm down – everything is under control.”
The deputy minister went on to say that through partnering with the ANC – as the leaders of South Africa and Africa – businesses will aid the ruling party in making the goals of the initiative a reality.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said that she was pleased to see local companies, such as Vodacom, forming part of the initiative, but expressed that she would like to see partnerships extend to other companies.
“We assure that the policies we develop will help business do what they need to do to develop skills in this country.”
“As government, we will never do it alone…It’s important that we reach all corners of South Africa,” she said.