Rwanda’s plan for digital dominance gets a Microsoft boost
April 16, 2013 Editor 0
(This is an update on the Microsoft4Afrika initiative highlighted in our February post Windows to the World: Why Microsoft’s $75 Million Mobile Drop Matters)
Rwanda has the ambitious goal of becoming Africa’s digital center. Microsoft4Afrika’s expansion into the country is a significant step in that direction.
Back in February, Forbes reported the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative will “bring 1 million African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online, increase the skill level of 100,000 members of Africa’s existing workforce… and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop job skills, 75 percent of whom Microsoft will help place in jobs.”
At that point, the program was represented in a number of countries around the continent, including Egypt, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. Last week, Microsoft expanded its 4Afrika initiative to Rwanda.
The goal in Rwanda is no different from that in other African countries: to distribute affordable smart devices preloaded with a “4Afrika” AppFactory operating as a ‘by Africa, for Africa’ programming platform. The initiative also includes educational opportunities for African youth to develop both technical and entrepreneurial skills for an evolving job market.
The minister of youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, believes that “tremendous opportunities abound in Rwanda’s ICT industry.” Microsoft’s presence in Rwanda brings the country one step closer to achieving its goal of a “knowledge-based” economy and becoming the information technology center of Africa. The country has already made significant investment to this end through importing refurbished computers and installing a network of telecenters, some of them hooked up to fibre-optic cable, others making use of mobile phone broadcast towers for their Internet access. The government has identified two pre-existing programs for collaboration with the Microsoft4Afrika Initiative, which will help Rwandan citizens contribute to a more digital economy.
The Viziyo program is designed to increase citizen access to smartphones by helping handset and service providers lower prices for acquiring and operating basic and multipurpose technology through bulk purchase. The Smart Village program, meanwhile, aims to create local jobs by equipping “smart” villages across the country with the latest technology to attract investors aiming to expand their businesses. Both programs, if successful, can increase internet penetration throughout the Rwanda.
Microsoft has invested in Africa, believing that it can be a “game changer in the global economy.” Rwanda seems poised to meet that expectation.Microsoft4Afrika presence in Rwanda might help the country reach its digital goals. Photo Credit: zampano!!! (flickr)Related articles:Secondary Department:
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