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Microsoft injects fresh $70 million in South Africa’s small and medium businesses 

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From left: DTIC acting DG Malebo Mabitje-Thompson, DTIC minister Ebrahim Patel, Microsoft SA MD Kalane Rampai, and Microsoft Africa president Lillian Barnard.

Microsoft SA and South Africa’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) have entered an agreement that would see the former inject over 1.3 billion rands ($70 million) into small and medium enterprises in the country to boost the tech and nontech sectors and also to prepare them for the advancement of Artificial intelligence.

According to ItWeb, Microsoft SA and the department signed the agreement, to be deployed over the next 10 years in the development of black-owned SMEs .The financial value of the commitment is calculated on the company’s estimated turnover over the next 10 years.

Microsoft SA explained the motive behind their investment saying it aims to spur SMEs development, create local opportunities and ready the country for AI transformation.

Microsoft SA MD Kalane Rampai emphasised on the importance of getting south Africa ready for AI in order to make sure the country does not miss out on the Ai revolution. He said this ahead of the signing ceremony of the deal.

“Last year, we were talking about AI as a breakthrough technology. This year, if you are not using AI, you are already behind.

“We cannot downplay the role that AI is currently playing and will continue to play in future. Therefore, there is no doubt that technology is altering the way we work, how we work and the job itself — we need to make sure our people have the requisite skills to stay relevant.

“We believe there is a massive opportunity for those willing to skill up on AI. At the same time, organisations that empower employees with AI tools and training will attract the best talent.” Rampai said.

Lillian Barnard, president of Microsoft Africa explained the importance of the investment and how it adds up to Microsoft goal of driving sustainable growth in Africa.

“This investment represents our commitment to empowering individuals and small businesses to be part of Africa’s digital economy, and drive job creation and growth that will benefit the entire region. Barnard said.

South Africa’s Small and medium businesses have been identified as key markers for growth, employment and increased economic activity in the country.

Rampai revealed that with South Africa’s SMEs growing at 6% year on year there is a burning need to make sure the growth is sustainable.

Therefore, the 1.3 billion rand ($70 million) investment by Microsoft is aimed at providing SMEs access to new markets and making sure they become net job creators.

“The investment aims to provide a platform for SMME development founded on technology, digital transformation, as well as market opportunities.

“As Microsoft, we believe SMMEs can contribute significantly to developing our digital economy and the wider economic growth of Africa.” Rampai added

In response, South Africa’s DTIC said the fund will assist black South Africans in non-tech sectors to harness the power of technology, and improve their competitiveness and ability to innovate and expand their operations.

The Department also said the investment in SMEs by Microsoft will act as a bridge to enable young people get training, certificate and Job placement adding to the overall improvement of the South African Economy.

What To Know 

  • Microsoft has recently collaborated with a United Arab Emirates AI company to launch a $1 billion Data center project in Kenya with the aim of expanding cloud computing technology and services in East Africa.
  • Unfortunately, Nigeria is left out in all these investments by Microsoft in African countries as the Global tech giant closed down its African Development Centre in Nigeria recently. This stresses Nigeria’s current reality in terms of wooing investors and keeping existing ones.

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