Microsoft announced its plans to build what it calls Africa Development Centres (ADC) in Kenya and Nigeria. The ADCs which Microsoft has said will cost $100 million will be built in Lagos and Nairobi.

According to Microsoft, the two ADCs will recruit 100 full-time engineers by the end of 2019 – expanding to 500 across the two sites by 2023.

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

Cynthia Wasonga, software engineer, Microsoft

Big Tech investing in Africa

In recent months, Africa has seen some of the world's biggest technology companies investing in skills development projects. Google recently announced its first official Artificial Intelligence research centre in Africa. There is also Huawei which during April 2019 announced $173 million in funding for a data centre at Kenya's Konza Technology City. Initiatives and funding such as these and Microsoft's investment in ADCs, if managed and executed well, will go a long way in developing digital technology skills across the continent.

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

The launch for the ADC in Nairobi took place on 14 May 2019 while the launch event for Lagos will take place on 17 May 2019.

Microsoft said its Cognition and Windows teams will be kick-starting their ADC efforts as they focus on Artificial Intelligence-enabled cloud services, mixed reality experiences and rich applications. The company has already opened job applications for those in Kenya and Nigeria looking to work at the ADCs.

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