Global tech company, Microsoft, has said that it has invested about $200 million (two hundred million dollars) in establishing its Africa Development Centre (ADC) in Lagos, Nigeria. This was disclosed by Gafar Lawal, managing director of its ADC in Nigeria, during Microsoft’s Nigeria Office Launch in Lagos.
This total cost entails the company’s investment in talent development, physical office space and product development since establishing the Africa Development Centre in Nigeria three years ago.
“I would say that, in total, we have invested over two hundred million dollars in our developmental effort in West and East Africa over the past three years. For this building alone, we have invested almost 70. We occupy six floors. This caters for our conference facility, space for developers and other Microsoft staff members.”
The ADC West Africa, which is Microsoft’s 7th globally, serves as a premier centre of engineering for Microsoft in the region, where world-class African talent can create solutions for local and global impact.
It was launched in May 2019 with the recruitment of 10 world-class African engineering talent to develop innovative solutions that span AI-enabled cloud services, mixed reality experiences and rich applications that power the intelligent edge without disruption.
The launch ceremony was attended by the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwoolu, the Federal Minister of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria, Isa Ali Pantami, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable Company, Funke Opeke and Chairman of Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh.
Isa Pantami cut the ribbons and officially unveiled the new office.
In his address, Professor Pantami expressed the Federal Government’s gratitude to Microsoft for the investment and announced that the government of Nigeria is willing to support international tech companies that have the desire to invest in the country by introducing enabling regulations and product adoption.
Speaking at the event, Joy Chik, Corporate Vice President, Identity Division at Microsoft told the audience that the ADC was the natural next idea when Microsoft realised that Africa is the next frontier for global technology expansion. According to her:
“Having spent over two decades on the continent, the next step in our journey in Africa was to better understand a continent rapidly growing in youthful population and talent pool as well as adopting technology in the cloud and at the edge. We launched the ADC in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria to help us better listen to our customers, develop locally and scale for global impact.”
“So far, we are proud of the impact the team is driving here and we are grateful to all our stakeholders- our local partners, the academia, the Federal and State governments and developers community- for the support”, she adds.
Gafar told the audience at the launch ceremony that owing to the abundance of talent in Nigeria, the centre has surpassed its four years goal of onboarding 500 developers by 2023.
“Usually, it takes an average of 6 months to fill key roles in our offices across the globe. But, when we announced the first roles in Nigeria, we had over a thousand applications in one hour. In fact, the question then wasn’t about finding competent people. It was about having sufficient roles to accommodate the talents.”
“We planned to have 500 engineers after four years, in 2023. I can tell you that today we already have 570 engineers. We are thinking of setting new goals already”, he adds.
Speaking on the importance of the ceremony, Microsoft’s Country Manager for Nigeria & Ghana, Ola Williams told the audience that the new office space is a testament to the growth of Microsoft’s presence over time.
“When Microsoft opened its first office in Nigeria in the year 2000, it was in a container office with just three staff members. Today, we have grown to a team of over 200 members with over 400 partners. During the pandemic alone, we trained over three hundred and seventy thousand in digital skills and over three hundred thousand became fully certified.”
Reeling out the company’s achievement, Ola Williams told the guests that Microsoft through its partners has provided over 1.2 million jobs in the country. “Through programmes like LEAP and Microsoft 4Afrika, we have upskilled more than three hundred and seventy thousand Africans during the pandemic and brought more than 700,000 small and medium-sized businesses online as well as connected schools, universities and healthcare clinics to the internet for the first time.”
As part of its bid to support the development of key engineering skills, Microsoft also partnered with local universities to create a modern intelligent edge and cloud curriculum, unique to Africa. Graduates from top Nigerian engineering universities were given access to the ADC to build relevant and meaningful careers in data science, AI, mixed reality, application development and more.
“That shows Microsoft’s commitment to bridging the gaps in infrastructure, connectivity and capability to accelerate innovation”, she concludes.
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