What Nigeria-Microsoft partnership means for Africa

Local media recently reported that global technology heavyweight company, Microsoft Corporation, has revealed plans to partner with the Nigerian Government for the benefit of Nigerians, particularly the youth, just like Google, HUAWEI and Facebook.

As a welcome offer, this would be showcasing and capable of relaunching Nigerian e-tech to the world as the Microsoft partnership is revealed as a Digital Transformation element of the Economic Sustainability Plan for the Nigerian Government.

This investment will be an extension to various tech companies in Africa, as it will influence the technology space in Nigeria and Africa at large. The world is going digital and technology contains a vast base of knowledge and tools that facilitate the use of financial resources as a way to appropriately and creatively produce goods and services.

For agricultural development in Africa, the Nigeria-Microsoft partnership means that digital technology could be part of the solution in Africa’s food ecosystem, as digital technology is capable of expanding access of farmers to capital and resources with a tab on a phone or laptop. Technological growth is vitally significant to the growth of the economy, and the more progressed the available technology, the faster the African economies will be able to progress.

In a virtual meeting with the Microsoft Corporation team led by its president, Mr Brad Smith, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that the company’s interest in supporting the Nigerian Government’s efforts is a welcome development and could be leveraged to address issues affecting young people, particularly in engaging them productively, local media reported.

Technological advancement can have many advantages; one such enhancement is the boost to the economy of a nation. Other ways in which technology helps developing countries’ economies include reducing production costs and empowering the growth of new enterprises – towards more communication development.

According to The Nation, while Google Inc. unveiled plans to start its first Google Launchpad Space outside the United States in Lagos in July 2020, Facebook made public its decision to open an office in Lagos in September of the same year as part of its planned expansion into Sub-Saharan Africa. HUAWEI, on the other hand, promised the Nigerian Vice President last November that Nigeria would be positioned as a technology center for the African continent.

Nigerian Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo, talking about the government efforts to develop the technology space, in particular, to boost viable sectors of the economy, noted that “we have a digital innovation initiative which we hope will be the foundation for doing far more in the digital space than we are doing at the moment.”

Emphasizing more, the Nigerian Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo stated that “just looking at agriculture, this is something that we’ve spent quite a bit of time and resources on especially in the past few years. We have also seen the development of a good number of agric-tech type companies and fin-techs that are also working in the agric sector. So, it’s a whole load of innovation around the agric tech space, especially in the past few years. So, I think we are up for programmes that will support these sorts of agric-tech initiatives”.

“Beginning with the African Development Centre which I think is excellent, I think it shows the commitment of Microsoft in developing the digital centre here in Nigeria. And it also shows the company’s confidence in the sort of talents that we have and the commitment of the government to ensuring that we develop that talent in the best possible ways that we can.”

Dr Ali Isa Pantami, the Nigerian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy said the Nigerian Government had already put in place the necessary structures to partner with Microsoft and other technology companies to develop the technology ecosystem.

However, Mr Smith, in addition to proposing a 90-day timeline for government stakeholders and Microsoft to iron out details of the different areas of collaboration, revealed his remark that the vision of his company for investment in Nigeria was one that would lead to the creation of the most viable technology ecosystem in Africa.

All these would help create a digital ecosystem and will also, in fact, serve as an approach in designing steps that will aid Africa’s agriculture and economy into the future.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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