Microsoft says it is throwing its global weight behind developing data and Artificial Intelligence capabilities in Africa through a deep investment in skills and the youth via initiatives like creating job opportunities, internships, training, events, challenges and strategic partnerships.
According to the company, it is doing this through its 4Afrika initiative and has created several job opportunities for the youth.
“With the pace of change driven by AI, there is an increasing need for life-long learning, on-the-job training, apprenticeships and other programmes that deliver training in a more nimble manner,” the Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft 4Afrika, Ryno Rijnsburger, stated.
He said that digital transformation was re-imagining industries around the world “and technology is no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity for staying in business.”
Research shows that modern technologies like AI will contribute up to $15.7tn to the global economy by 2030, making it the biggest commercial opportunity in today’s fast-changing economy, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
AI is also expected to create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, according to Gartner.
Rijnsburher added, “The appetite for these technologies exists in Africa. More and more companies – including several of the local partners we work with – are starting to experiment with and enact their strategies towards this.
“As AI opens new business and employment opportunities, now is a crucial time to equip Africa’s young people with the skills that will enable access to higher paying jobs, in faster growing fields.”
Earlier in the month, Microsoft participated in Data Science Nigeria’s Artificial Intelligence boot camp to build the capacity of local developers in using AI to drive financial inclusion.
The tech giant also provided sponsorship and mentorship at the International Python Conference, which took place in Kenya on October 25 and 26, and the Botswana Innovation Hub Innovation Day on October 24 and 25.
In partnership with the Botswana Innovation Hub, Microsoft 4Afrika launched its 17th AppFactory (Apprenticeship Factory) in Africa. Three of these AppFactories are currently running in Nigeria and Ghana, in collaboration with local partners, Mobile Web Ghana, Lotus Beta Analytics and Sidmach Technologies, which recently graduated its first set of apprentices.
At these factories, young Information and Communications Technology graduates are developing skills in secure coding, machine learning, bot framework and data analytics – empowering them to innovate in the fields of healthcare, finance, education, transportation and more.
At PyCon, Microsoft provided training around data and AI, machine learning and Microsoft Cloud technologies. PyCon Kenya is the Kenyan chapter of the International Python Conference that brings together businesses, ‘techies’, start-ups and students with an interest in the Python programming language, a key language for the data and AI frontiers.
Rijnsburger said, “We are working to empower individuals across all demographics with the high-demand skills they need to succeed in an AI-enabled world, create breakthrough innovations and accelerate Africa’s digital transformation.
“AI is not about replacing humans, but rather amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technology. We believe it has the power to extend our capabilities so that we can achieve more.
“When made accessible to everyone, AI will transform industries, make us more productive, and help solve some of society’s biggest challenges. We’re committed to ensuring that Africa plays its part in this smart revolution.”