Microsoft has partnered the African Development Bank (AfDB) in a move that will see the bank invest US$20 million to develop technologies designed to boost ICT access in Africa.
The partnership, which was announced last week at the AfDB Annual Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, will see the two institutions develop several types of applications to support capacity building within institutions and the private sector.
It will also focus on distance learning and improved access to ICT through the distribution of equipment.
Fernando de Sousa, general Manager of Africa Initiatives at Microsoft, said ICT can play a vital role in creating wealth and jobs for young people in particular in Africa, though political will was required in overcoming challenges such as the development of an inclusive market regulation policy and the improvement of existing legal frameworks.
“The fact that Africa continues to face electricity shortages and the lack of suitable infrastructure in many countries across the continent also pose major challenges,” de Sousa said.
“Under the current environment, young people have the opportunity to use these technologies to their benefit. This will help to reduce the unacceptable levels of inequality in many countries across Africa.”
The education arm of the partnership will cover Kenya, Namibia and Tanzania, involving the installation and operation of distance-learning systems which will help to support knowledge-exchange efforts between research institutions.
In health, one project has involved the deployment of a telemedicine system in Botswana, enabling doctors at a Gaborone hospital to collaborate with peers at the University of Pennsylvania on diagnosis and treatment.