It was almost three decades ago that Microsoft opened its first offices in Africa. In this time, they witnessed incredible growth on the continent – more internet connectivity, more digital capability and more innovation. Africans have expanded the applications of technology, changing the way communities bank, farm and even access healthcare.
At Microsoft, they’re very fortunate to have played a part in realising this potential, building strong partnerships to accelerate digital transformation and create sustained societal impact. A big milestone for this investment came earlier this year, as we opened Africa’s first hyper-scale datacentres in South Africa, promoting business innovation in the cloud.
As the next step on Microsoft’s journey in Africa, and to better understand a continent rapidly adopting technology in the cloud, and at the edge, Microsoft launched its first Africa Development Centre (ADC). With two initial sites in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria, the ADC will serve as a premier centre of engineering for Microsoft, where world-class African talent can create solutions for local and global impact.
“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. Beyond that, it’s an opportunity to engage further with partners, academia, governments and developers – driving impact in sectors important to the continent, such as FinTech, AgriTech and OffGrid energy,” said Phil Spencer, executive sponsor of the ADC and executive vice president at Microsoft.
Local innovation, global impact
Africa is poised for innovation at the intelligent edge. To staff the ADC, Microsoft are seeking engineering talent from across the continent to fuel AI, machine learning and mixed reality innovation. Engineers have already started working, and the company intends to recruit 100 full-time engineers by the end of the year – expanding to 500 across the two sites by 2023.
To build their talent pipeline, Microsoft are also partnering with local universities to create a modern intelligent edge and cloud curriculum, totally unique to Africa. Graduates will have access to the ADC to build a relevant and meaningful career in data science, AI, mixed reality, application development and many more.
“Our desire is to recruit exceptional engineering talent across the continent that will build innovative solutions for global impact. This also creates opportunities for engineers to do meaningful work from their home countries and be plugged into a global engineering and development organisation,” said Michael Fortin, corporate vice president at Microsoft and the lead in establishing the first ADC engineering team in Nairobi.
Innovation at the edge
Microsoft is already empowering many innovations at the edge with partners like Interswitch, SunCulture and M-KOPA. Through the ADC, we intend to invest in more cutting-edge solutions suitable for Kenya, Nigeria and the rest of the world.
The Microsoft Cognition team and Windows team will be kick-starting their ADC efforts, focusing on AI-enabled cloud services, mixed reality experiences and rich applications that power the intelligent edge without disruption.
A long-term investment
The ADC supports Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. The ADC is the first Global Development Centre in Africa with a combined expected investment of US $100 million over the first five years of operation.