Buhari meets Microsoft’s Brad Smith, says Nigeria is ready to play in global digital ecosystem

Godfrey Elimian
*President Buhari meets Microsoft President Brad Smith in what could be seen as an extension of the company’s partnership drive in the continent | *Microsoft’s Investment in the country’s tech space to go beyond the Africa development office in Nigeria
President Buhari with Isa Pantami and Brad Smith
State house meeting between President Buhari and Microsoft President Brad Smith

Today, at the State House, President Muhammadu Buhari met with the President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, in what could be seen as an extension of the official launching of the ADC building and office in Lagos, according to reports emerging from the official Twitter handle of the Personal Assistant on Digital and New Media to President Buhari, Bashir Ahmad.

The visit to the State House further recognises the efforts and commitment of the company in fostering the relationship and development of the tech economy in Africa, thereby putting the continent on the road map to industrialisation and actualising full digitalisation of the company.

Read also: Microsoft acquires process mining software, Minit – a pathway to digital transformation

Earlier in Lagos, Microsoft announced the opening of its world-class Africa Development Centre in Lagos, after three years of successful operations and hosting at Microsoft’s Lagos hub. The establishment of its office in Lagos was seen and described as a move meant to increase the physical presence and hunt in recruiting top engineering talents in the country,

The facility will continue our efforts towards training, equipping and hiring engineering talent in Nigeria and West Africa as a whole to contribute to the development of Microsoft products that are in use by over 1 billion devices and empowering millions of users and organisations across the world to do more.

 ADC West Africa Managing Director, Gafar Lawal

Read Also: Microsoft opens world-class offices for its Africa Development Center (ADC) in Lagos

The State House meeting also witnessed the presence of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, who was also present at the launching In Lagos.

The President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, President Buhari presented a handbook to President Buhari which represented a roadmap of the ADC office’s intended operations and benefits to the economy.

“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,’’ President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.

“I have also been informed of Microsoft’s skilling 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,’’ he added.

Buhari told the visiting Microsoft team that Nigeria was positioned to play a strategic role in the global technology ecosystem and seek the right partnerships to harness the potential.

He said his administration had shown great commitment to providing a 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.

“Our emphasis on the development of our Digital Economy has also positioned the sector as a prominent factor in the Nigerian economy. 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.’’

Apart from the partnership in the area of skills building, Buhari said he looked forward to further partnerships that will support the digital infrastructure and innovation ecosystem, with regard to emerging technologies.

“I believe that this meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how the Nigerian government can support the growth of your business here and how Microsoft can contribute to the growth of our economy through the active support of our policies and programmes,’’ he added.

In his remarks, Pantami said he represented Buhari at the commissioning of the African Development Centre, adding that Microsoft had over 200 Nigerians working for them in the country, and Seattle.

President Buhari state house meeting

He noted that 320,000 Nigerians have also been trained in digital skills by the technology company.

On his part, Brad Smith said the company will keep creating jobs to help build technology that will 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, noting “60,000 people had already enrolled for courses while 300,000 had completed various courses.’’

In May 2021, the Buhari administration announced a partnership with the tech giant to accelerate Nigeria’s advance towards a more digital economy in line with the Economic Sustainability Plan. 

In a dual announcement by both the Federal Government and Microsoft Corporation, no less than five million Nigerians would benefit from a digital upskilling programme, and locations in each of the 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria will also enjoy active internet connection and cloud services courtesy of this digital transformation plan. 

The partnership with Microsoft Corporation anchored on connectivity, skilling and digital transformation followed discussions between both parties led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and Microsoft President Brad Smith earlier in the year. 

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