Microsoft has announced a new partnership with the government of Angola and pledged closer collaboration with the European Union (EU) to accelerate Africa’s social and economic development at the second annual African Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Best Practices Forum.
Organised in partnership with the government of Burkina Faso and the EU, the forum brings high-level officials in the public sector, multilateral and non-governmental organisations, and business leaders together to discuss how ICT can help foster more efficient and transparent public services and development across the continent.
“During the next 10 years, a new wave of technology innovations will make computing more affordable, more powerful and more accessible than ever,” says Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer. “These advances will make it possible to deliver the benefits of information technology much more broadly across Africa. At Microsoft, we are committed to working in close partnership with African governments, international organisations, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and others to facilitate e-government initiatives, promote technology access and capacity building, and share regional and global best practices.”
Through its Unlimited Potential commitment, and in support of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, the partnerships Microsoft announced will accelerate the adoption of relevant, affordable and accessible technology in both the public and private sector. The partners will combine their respective expertise in development and technology to develop projects and solutions applicable across Africa.
The government of Angola and Microsoft have expanded their local strategic partnership to provide secure and accessible ICT to the government and the people of Angola. This includes a commercial enterprise agreement, as well as a commitment to implement technology-access, e-government, skills development, digital inclusion and digital literacy programmes.
“The Government is clear that information and communication technology – when implemented in ways that are locally relevant – can help enhance the services we deliver to the people of Angola,” says Professor Pedro Teta, vice-Minister of Science and Technology for Angola. “It can improve communications, ensure transparency and reduce costs. It can also support social and economic development, stimulate our private sector, and help our local industries to be even more competitive. Considering the current growth rates of our economy and our desire to embrace technology in its many different forms, partnerships like the one signed today with Microsoft are significant.”
Microsoft was one of the first companies to join the EU-Africa Business Forum when it was launched in November 2006 by Louis Michel, European Commissioner responsible for Development and Humanitarian Aid. Microsoft’s chairman for Africa, Dr Cheick Modibo Diarra, has chaired the ICT working group since the EU-Africa Business Forum’s inception. He was recently appointed as co-chair with Sir John Grant, the president (Europe) of BHP Billiton, of the next EU-Africa Business Forum, which supports the NEPAD eSchools initiative.
At the ICT Best Practices event, the EU is supporting the attendance of NGOs, and small and medium-sized enterprises from across Africa – the intention being to develop the dialogue between public and private stakeholders and foster concrete plans for best practices implementation programmes.
“We should not forget that investment in ICT can lead to major advances in reaching the UN’s Millennium Development Goals,” Michel says. “My objective, and the goal of the European Commission, is to help bridge the digital divide in all corners of Africa and to integrate the African economy into the global market. To enable African governments and citizens to share best practices and their success stories, Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Technology has officially launched the ICT Best Practices website. The initiative, spearheaded by Dr Diarra and constructed by Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Softnet Burkina SA, presents an interactive database of information submitted by public sector agencies and non-governmental organisations throughout Africa on a pan-African website."
The site can be found at http://www.africaictbestpractices.net.