Microsoft development centres to boast tech skills, develop tailored solutions for Africa

The issue of graduates not being well-prepared and lacking the technical skills necessary to see them transition seamlessly into their jobs has been raised in various quarters in the past, a situation that has led a number of to stay jobless.

To remedy the situation, most employers have had to take the fresh employed graduates through in-house training before they can be absorbed and join the various teams within their new workstations. At times however, these training sessions are conducted at a cost, borne by the employer.

(TOP: Sebuh Haileul, the Microsoft Country Manager for East Africa – right – and Jaime Galviz, Microsoft’s COO & CMO for Middle East and Africa at the #MicrosoftADC launch).

All is not lost however.

This week, Microsoft has launched its first Africa Development Centre (ADC), with facilities in Nairobi, Kenya and in Lagos, Nigeria. The centre, Microsoft’s seventh globally, aims to take on board talented budding African engineers, mentor and groom them then have them develop innovative solutions that can address the continent’s pressing challenges through technology.

Apart from skills development, the ADC is intended to create an employment pipeline, as graduates from Kenya and Nigeria’s engineering universities will have the opportunity to utilise the ADC to build careers in various fields such as Data Science, AI, Mixed Reality as well as Application development among others.

Still on talent development, Microsoft plans to offer internship opportunities for university students to further build their engineering skills, with the target being to have 100 engineers by the end of the year and more than 500 engineers across both locations – Nairobi and Lagos – in the first five years of operation.

“Our desire is to recruit exceptional engineering talent and provide the opportunity to work on the latest technologies suitable for Kenya and the rest of the world,” said Michael Fortin, corporate VP at Microsoft and the lead in establishing the first ADC engineering team in Nairobi executive VP at Microsoft during #MicrosoftADC launch. “In doing so, engineers are able to enjoy meaningful work from their home countries, while plugged into a global engineering and development organisation.”

Once the necessary pool of engineering has been identified and trained, the team will then be required to develop solutions and products relevant and customised to Africa and which can address various challenges facing the population.

For the ADC, Microsoft is seeking engineering talent in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and mixed reality. A call for applications is already open online.

In a nutshell, with the ADC, Microsoft aims to establish a premier centre of engineering where African talent can create innovative solutions for local and global impact across a number of sectors including FinTech, AgriTech, and OffGrid energy.

“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,” said Phil Spencer, executive sponsor of the ADC and executive VP at Microsoft during #MicrosoftADC launch in Nairobi. “Beyond that, it’s an opportunity to engage more with local partners, academia, governments and developers – driving impact and innovation in sectors important to Africa.”

Microsoft, which has had a presence in Kenya for over 20 years now, is to invest about $100 (Kshs 10 billion) in the Nairobi and Lagos facilities in the next five years, with the cash being the cost of infrastructure development and employment of qualified local engineers across the two ADC sites.


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