Microsoft has invested $200 million in Nigeria through its newly unveiled African Development Centre (ADC) in Lagos.
The ADC is the premier engineering centre for Microsoft. The centre was created by Microsoft to serve as a base for African industry leaders to create local solutions with global scalability as well as provide employment opportunities and further enhance technological innovations on the continent of Africa.
At the unveiling yesterday, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, who appreciated the efforts of Microsoft for finding it worthy to establish such a facility in Nigeria, charged other private sector operators to do the same and support the Federal Government’s digital economy programmes.
Pantami said government cherished and value its relationship with Microsoft. He said though the government plans to complete digitisation of the economy by 2030, “I can say that the ADC is in line with FG’s digital economy project. This would help the government to deliver a digital economy for Nigeria.”
He commended Microsoft, stressing that the country is also strategic to the American firm going by the population,being the gateway to Africa, the cosmopolitan nature of the country and the strategic geographical location of Nigeria. He stressed that the country remains the best place for all technology companies.
Pantami, who submitted that ADC would help the continent to bridge the gap between it and other regions, noted that Microsoft would get Universal License, which would ensure that it services the governments and parastatals.
He said government would negotiate through the Universal License, and enable MDAs to have access, which they would subscribe to through the government.
Corporate Vice President, Identity at Microsoft, Joy Chik, who said Microsoft opened its subsidiary in Nigeria in 2000, while in 2013, it created For Africa Initiative, which was designed to help Africa strengthen its technology infrastructure and get more African consumers online and help prepare the region’s next generation workforce.
Chik, who said this year marks 48 years of the creation of Microsoft, informed that the firm had been working with governments, technology partners and universities.
She said in March 2019, the firm opened the first data centre on the continent in South Africa and in May 2019, the firm announced the ADC in Nigeria and Kenya, with the mission of creating innovative technologies not just for Africa but for the entire world. “We hired engineers for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Mixed Reality and we committed to investing $100 million in the first five years of operations,” she said.
“The ADC is a place for world class engineers to create products and services that would power the future global economy. She said the firm has surpassed 500 engineers planned to be hired by 2023 that would work across identity, Mixed Reality, Microsoft 365 services as well as data services,” she stated.
According to her, there are over 120 engineers and more than 200 employees, adding that the firm would continue to focus on students and community engagements.
Chik, who stressed that Africa holds great potential for Microsoft with over 180,000 employees across the globe, noted that the firm is committed to empower every person and organisation in Africa through the ADC.
From his perspective, the Managing Director, ADC, Gafar Lawal, said the Centre would reposition Africa digitally, stressing that huge investments have gone into the space.
Lawal said about $200 million have been invested thus far, with $70 million going into the building, which houses the ADC.
Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana, Ola Williams, said the impact of the American firm is being felt across the continent, stressing that it partners governments, NGOs, with impact felt in the education sector and public service.
Willaims said the firm has touched 1.2 million Nigerians in terms of skilling, stressing that 370,000 got skilled during the pandemic. She described the ADC investment as another opportunity for Microsoft to scale and impact the society directly.