By Haruna Gimba
The Microsoft Corporation would establish a $200 million engineering hub of the African Development Centre in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari stated this when he received the President of Microsoft Corporation, Brad Smith, at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.
He said Nigeria is poised to welcome more initiatives and investments in digital technology as he expressed appreciation to Microsoft’s investment in the country.
Smith was accompanied by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami.
“I have been informed that the African Development Centre in Nigeria is Microsoft’s first engineering hub in Africa as the current investment stands at about 200 million dollars.
“I have also been informed of Microsoft’s skills initiative that aims to train five million citizens and provide 27,000 jobs over the next three years. These initiatives are commendable and I urge you to expand them and continue to prioritise Nigeria as you roll out your global initiatives.”
The president told the visiting Microsoft team that as the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, Nigeria was positioned to play a strategic role in the global technology ecosystem and seek the right partnerships to harness the potential.
He said one of such key partnerships was in the area of capacity building.
He added that his administration had shown great commitment in providing conducive environment for investors and the massive jump in the Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking was proof that the efforts were yielding positive results.
“As the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy in 2020, the Information and Communications Technology sector played a very important role in supporting our country to exit the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are keen to build on the momentum as we continue to implement our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, along with other related policies,” he said.
The president said he launched the Nigerian National Broadband Plan on March 19, 2020, with the aim of expanding broadband access across Nigeria and Microsoft’s connectivity initiative aligns with the plan.
The President of Microsoft and Vice Executive Chairman said the company would keep creating jobs to help build technology that would change the world, noting that the “multi-tasking approach” also stretches to digital infrastructure.
“We pledge to train five million people in Nigeria in the future,’’ Smith said, adding, “60,000 people have already enrolled for courses, while 300,000 have completed various courses.’’
Smith said the company had gone into partnership with other companies to increase Internet and broadband penetration, while efforts had been advanced in innovating technology that would fight corruption and preserve cultural heritages such as language barriers.