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Greater access to IT, more skills for 19 African countries

Greater access to IT, more skills for 19 African countries.

A deal struck between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), via the COMESA Business Council (CBC), and Microsoft has paved the way for improved collaboration to bolster access to technology, the development of skills and innovation for 19 countries and COMESA members.

In Lusaka COMESA and Microsoft representatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing to "improve regional trade, develop public sector ICT skills and promote local innovation for better service delivery."

According to partners the MoU will promote access to technology to COMESA Member States based on a Trusted Cloud Infrastructure that focuses on the secure deployment of modern IT operations.

"It is also expected this collaboration will accelerate and promote the adoption of innovative high-speed low-cost connectivity initiatives, including through new policy approaches to spectrum management such as dynamic spectrum access. It will also encourage the use of cloud technologies through the adoption of important enabling policies in the areas of cyber-security, data privacy and data protection," reads a statement issued to the media.

Sindiso Ngwenya, COMESA's Secretary General,said: "Business technology has revolutionised the way countries and firms conduct business. We are in an age where the planning processes of organisations is through instruments and solutions that promote quality management, and respond to age-old constraints of time limitations and high costs of operations."

"Through Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative, we have been working to increase regional trade and the growth of the knowledge economy in Africa," says Antony Cook, Associate General Counsel, Legal and Corporate Affairs Microsoft, Middle East and Africa. "Through influential partnerships, such as the one with COMESA, we aim to scale across the region further to impact not just thousands, but millions."

The collaboration is further expected to focus on fostering innovation across the COMESA region by promoting the value and protection of Intellectual Property.

"It will also encourage the development of eGovernment solutions that will facilitate, simplify and stimulate investment in and trade across the COMESA region to save on time and the cost of complying with business governance and regulations. This collaboration fits squarely with COMESA's mandate and demonstrates the commitment to promote common interests for economic development in the region," the statement continues.

COMESA member states include Burundi, Comoros, DRC, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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