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Microsoft opens first Africa Development Centre in Kenya and Nigeria

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Cynthia-Wasonga, Software Engineer at Microsoft.

It was almost three decades ago that Microsoft opened its first offices in Africa. In this time, we’ve witnessed incredible growth on the continent – more internet connectivity, more digital capability and more innovation. Africans have expanded the applications of technology, changing the way communities bank, farm and even access healthcare.

At Microsoft, we’re very fortunate to have played a part in realising this potential, building strong partnerships to accelerate digital transformation and create sustained societal impact. A big milestone for this investment came earlier this year, as we opened Africa’s first hyper-scale datacentres in South Africa, promoting business innovation in the cloud.

As the next step on our journey in Africa, and to better understand a continent rapidly adopting technology in the cloud, and at the edge, Microsoft today launched its first Africa Development Centre (ADC). With two initial sites in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria, the ADC will serve as a premier centre of engineering for Microsoft, where world-class African talent can create solutions for local and global impact.

The ADC will be unlike any other existing investment on the continent. It will help us better listen to our customers, develop locally and scale for global impact. Beyond that, it’s an opportunity to engage further with partners, academia, governments and developers – driving impact in sectors important to the continent, such as FinTech, AgriTech and OffGrid energy.

Phil Spencer, executive sponsor of the ADC and executive vice president at Microsoft

Local innovation, global impact

Africa is poised for innovation at the intelligent edge. To staff the ADC, we are seeking engineering talent from across the continent to fuel AI, machine learning and mixed reality innovation. Engineers have already started working, and we intend to recruit 100 full-time engineers by the end of the year – expanding to 500 across the two sites by 2023. Those interested can visit the ADC website

Female engineer sitting cross legged Cynthia Wasonga, software engineer, Microsoft

To build our talent pipeline, we’re also partnering with local universities to create a modern intelligent edge and cloud curriculum, totally unique to Africa. Graduates will have access to the ADC to build a relevant and meaningful career in data science, AI, mixed reality, application development and many more.

Our desire is to recruit exceptional engineering talent across the continent that will build innovative solutions for global impact. This also creates opportunities for engineers to do meaningful work from their home countries and be plugged into a global engineering and development organisation

Michael Fortin, corporate vice president at Microsoft and the lead in establishing the first ADC engineering team in Nairobi

Innovation at the edge
Microsoft is already empowering many innovations at the edge with partners like InterswitchSunCulture and M-KOPA. Through the ADC, we intend to invest in more cutting-edge solutions suitable for Kenya, Nigeria and the rest of the world.

Our Microsoft Cognition team and Windows team will be kick-starting our ADC efforts, focusing on AI-enabled cloud services, mixed reality experiences and rich applications that power the intelligent edge without disruption.

A long-term investment

The ADC supports Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. The ADC is the first Global Development Centre in Africa with a combined expected investment of US $100 million over the first five years of operation.

-Microsoft News Center

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ACP Business Summit: Improve the Business Environment to Drive Industrialisation in African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries – Elumelu

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L – R: Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman, Heirs Holdings and UBA Group; H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya; at the 9th ACP Business Summit in Kenya on December 8, 2019, as Elumelu Presents the Keynote Speech.

Nairobi, Kenya, December 9, 2019: Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman, Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa Group, urged African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Heads of State to improve the business environment in their countries to drive industrialisation and wealth creation in ACP member states.

He said this while presenting the keynote speech on the theme “Industrialization and Private Sector Engagement for Economic Transformation of ACP States” at the Presidential Dialogue of the 9th ACP Business Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

Elumelu stated that industrialisation will not be achieved without support for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and improved access to electricity. “We cannot hope to industrialise if we do not fix the issue of power, if our entrepreneurs spend so much of their resources to power their businesses, how then are they expected to make the investments necessary to upgrade and industrialise? If we do not tackle these pertinent issues, we will be unable to achieve industrialisation, wealth creation and poverty reduction,” he said.

He highlighted infrastructure development as another critical area needed to achieve sustainable development, highlighting the key role the United Bank for Africa Group plays in achieving this. “UBA is a force for development in Africa through infrastructure investment and leading the way in cross border payments and services, with the objective of encouraging trade across the continent,” he said.

While citing the impact of the flagship Entrepreneurship Programme of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Elumelu highlighted the critical role partnership between the private and public sectors, as well as developmental organisations, play in achieving industrialisation. The Tony Elumelu Foundation, a private-sector-led philanthropy,  is on a mission to catalyse the economic transformation of the continent by empowering young African entrepreneurs – over 7,500 beneficiaries across 54 African countries thus far – through its Entrepreneurship Programme. Elumelu shared stories of beneficiaries in Kenya including Dr. Peter Gichuhi Mwethera, who has developed a contraceptive gel, Uniprin, which aims to prevent HIV infection, and Maureen Amakabane whose company, ‘Usafi Sanitation’, is bridging the sanitation gap in schools by providing waterless toilets.

Also Read: How this African Diaspora is keeping the tradition of African storytelling alive

He said: “To date, we have 497 beneficiaries in Kenya, 596 in Uganda, 187 in Tanzania and 194 in Rwanda. This brings the total number of TEF Entrepreneurs in East Africa so far to 1,474, so far. Organisations such as the UNDP, African Development Bank, the ICRC, and GIZ have helped increase the number of young entrepreneurs we can support “.

The President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta shared the same approach to development, while highlighting his country’s private-sector-focused plan which has propelled the country’s ease of doing business rank from 129th position out of 190 economies in 2013 to the 56th position in 2019. 

President Kenyatta said: “Our young people are tech-savvy and indeed with a huge entrepreneurial spirit. They are ready to embrace the digital revolution. We are experiencing a flourishing digital innovation ecosystem which can stimulate the rate of growth of ICT and technology innovations, and nurture vibrant tech startups and incubator hubs as Tony [Elumelu] has mentioned, of those young men and women he has supported through his family and Foundation”.

In closing, Elumelu stressed the importance of including women in the development agenda of the ACP region, commending the European Investment Bank (EIB), for its initiative “She Invest”, which is focused on mobilising 1 billion Euros for women across Africa. “We at the Tony Elumelu Foundation strive to reach the same goals of uplifting women out of poverty and empowering them with knowledge and resources. This is an invitation to join forces as we have done with the UNDP to lift 100,000 young African boys and girls out of poverty, thereby stemming migration challenges,” he said. 

Tony Elumelu Foundation

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Cars45 Expands to Ghana and Kenya

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Pan-African automotive platform launches consumer-to-consumer marketplace to match sellers and buyers

Lagos, Nigeria – 10 December 2019 – Cars45, Nigeria’s leading automotive trading platform, has launched into Ghana (www.cars45.com.gh)  and Kenya (www.cars45.co.ke). Cars45 is aiming to become the primary platform for all car transactions in the $45 billion African used car market and expansion into these strategic markets marks an important step on that journey.

In an African market where 9 million used cars are traded annually, trust is often a rare commodity as buyers and sellers navigate opaque pricing and quality assurance structures. Using its technology-enabled platform, consumers in Ghana and Kenya can now sell their cars directly through Cars45 and get paid in 45 minutes. Sellers have access to standardised pricing and a transparent marketplace, with 100 percent visibility into price offers, and buyers get access to the largest selection of verified cars. Cars45 will also provide vehicle financing, background checks, vehicle history, insurance, after-sales support, servicing and other ancillary services that consumers will need in their automotive lifecycle.

With retail locations already opened in Nairobi and Accra, Cars45 plans to increase its footprint in Ghana and Kenya even further by opening more centres in Mombasa, Takoradi and other cities. Cars45 also aims to expand into additional African markets in 2020.

In addition to its launch into these markets, Cars45 is also launching a consumer-to-consumer marketplace that directly matches sellers and buyers across all markets it operates in. In an African automotive market where trust is not traditionally high, consumers will be able to connect in a seamless and secure way, using Cars45 as a marker of professionalism and excellence.

All cars listed in the Cars45 marketplace have been through a thorough vetting process (200 point inspection, due diligence and background check) and will carry the trusted Cars45 inspection report. Cars45 will also conduct multi-level screening to ensure that only serious buyers are brought forward. Buyers will have full confidence in the purchase they are making and sellers will be protected by an escrow model.

Also Read: How this African Diaspora is keeping the tradition of African storytelling alive

According to Etop Ikpe, CEO and co-founder of Cars45, “We want to connect buyers and sellers across the continent in the most seamless way, taking the stress out of the trading experience. After successfully establishing ourselves in Nigeria, expanding into Ghana and Kenya made perfect sense as the ideal next step as we build a transparent and fair structure for trading cars on the continent.

Ikpe added that “the process of buying and selling cars today can be complicated, time-consuming and needlessly expensive. We want to put an end to that by providing an easy and convenient way for consumers across Africa to make what is often the most significant financial transaction of their lives.”

Cars45

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Tony Elumelu Dedicates the AABLA Philanthropist of the Year Award to Young African Entrepreneurs

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Johannesburg, South Africa, December 5, 2019 – Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and Chairman, Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa Group, received the All Africa Business Leaders’ Awards (AABLA) yesterday in Johannesburg. In the acceptance speech delivered by Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Elumelu dedicated the award to young African entrepreneurs, commending their drive to succeed against all odds.

Organised by CNBC, the AABLA Awards “Philanthropy Award” category seeks to identify and recognise individuals for their exemplary and unique contributions towards the social and economic development of Africa. According to the organisers, the recognition was attributed to African entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Elumelu for his outstanding moral and financial investment in Africa, and his support of young African entrepreneurs.

Also Read: How this African Diaspora is keeping the tradition of African storytelling alive

Receiving the award on behalf of Mr. Elumelu, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu commended entrepreneurs for their spirit of achievement and excellence. In her acceptance speech, she said: “This award is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of young African entrepreneurs who apply to the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme every year. They are the true heroes of our continent.”

The Tony Elumelu Foundation, an African private-sector-led philanthropy focused on empowering African entrepreneurs, has thus far empowered over 7500 entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries with seed capital, business training and capacity building skills needed to scale their businesses. The goal is to empower young African entrepreneurs to create millions of jobs and revenue on the continent, tackling poverty and extremism, and creating economic hope in underserved communities while contributing to the overall advancement of the African continent.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation recently announced that it will open its annual call for applications for the new cohort of entrepreneurs on January 1, 2020.

TEF

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