Microsoft 4Afrika deepening data, AI capabilities in Africa

By Moses Nosike

Digital transformation is re-imagining industries around the world. Technology is no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity for staying in business. Research shows that modern technologies like AI will contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, making it the biggest commercial opportunity in today’s fast-changing economy (PwC). AI is also expected to create 2.3 million jobs by 2020 (Gartner).

Skype Chief Executive Tony Bates, left, Microsoft Chief Executive,Steve Ballmer, at a news conference in San Francisco on the acquisition:Reuters

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Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft 4Afrika, Ryno Rijinsburger, said that the appetite for these technologies exists in Africa as more companies – including local partners working with us are beginning to experiment with it and enacting their strategies towards this.

Rijinsburger said that as AI opens new business and employment opportunities, now is the right time to equip Africa’s young people with the skills that would enable access to higher paying jobs in faster growing fields.

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“Microsoft, through its 4Afrika initiative, is throwing its global weight behind developing data and AI capabilities in Africa, through deep and prolonged investment into skills which targets youths via  internships, training, events, challenges, and strategic partnering.

“With the pace of change driven by AI, there is an increasing need for life-long learning, on-the-job training, apprenticeships and other programmes that deliver training in a more nimble manner”.

Earlier in the month, Microsoft participated in Data Science Nigeria’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) bootcamp, to build the capacity of local developers in using AI to drive financial inclusion. This week, the tech giant also provided sponsorship and mentorship at the International Python Conference (PyCon), which took place on October 25 and 26 in Kenya and Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) Innovation Day held on October 24 and 25.

In partnership with the Botswana Innovation Hub, Microsoft 4Afrika launched its 17th AppFactory (Apprenticeship Factory) in Africa. Three of these AppFactories are currently running in Nigeria and Ghana, in collaboration with local partners Mobile Web Ghana, Lotus Beta Analytics and Sidmach Technologies, which recently graduated its first set of apprentices.

At these factories, young ICT graduates are developing skills in secure coding, machine learning, bot framework and data analytics – empowering them to innovate in the fields of healthcare, finance, education, transportation and more.