Microsoft has launched its first Africa Development Centre (ADC), with two initial sites in Nairobi and Lagos, as it bids to create a premier centre of engineering, recruiting world-class African talent to create innovative solutions for local and global impact.
The ADC, which will cost US$100-million across its first five years of operation, will initially be housed within existing Microsoft offices in both Nairobi and Lagos, but will expand to new purpose-built facilities soon.
It is Microsoft's seventh such centre globally, and will see the company recruit 100 full-time engineers across the two ADC sites, with plans to increase the headcount to more than 500 engineers by the end of 2023.
These engineers will develop innovative solutions that span the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.
The ADC is the latest in Microsoft's ongoing investments in Africa, enabling digital transformation, bridging gaps in infrastructure, connectivity and capability while creating sustained societal impact on the continent.
The increased presence on the continent will boost partners and customers as they use Microsoft solutions in fields such as FinTech, agri-tech and off-grid energy.
"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," said Phil Spencer, executive sponsor of the ADC and executive vice president at Microsoft. "Beyond that, it's an opportunity to engage further with African partners, academia, governments and developers - driving impact and innovation in sectors important to Africa."
To support the development of the required skills, Microsoft is also partnering with local universities to create a modern intelligent edge and cloud curriculum, unique to Africa.
Graduates from top engineering universities will have access to the ADC to build relevant and meaningful careers in data science, AI, mixed reality, application development and more.
Michael Fortin, corporate vice president at Microsoft and the lead in establishing the first ADC engineering team in Nairobi said, "Our desire is to recruit exceptional engineering talent and provide the opportunity to work on the latest technologies suitable for Kenya, Nigeria and the rest of the world. In doing so, engineers are able to enjoy meaningful work from their home countries, while plugged into a global engineering and development organisation."
Microsoft recently opened its first hyper-scale datacentres in South Africa, and chose Kenya and Nigeria for the ADC as it believes they are leading regional digital innovation hubs where the ADC intends to invest and accelerate work already being done.
"The reason we selected these countries as the first ADC sites is to better understand a continent that is rapidly adopting cloud technology and innovation at the intelligent edge," said Amrote Abdella, regional director of the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative.
"Microsoft is already empowering many Kenyan and Nigerian innovations at the edge, with partners like Interswitch, energy start-up M-KOPA, and agri-tech start-up N-Frnds, and Virtual City, a key partner across all areas. The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture in Kenya and Energyrathon Consulting in Nigeria are also two recent AI for Earth grant recipients, that are using AI to prevent nutrition crises and protect marine ecosystems. We're excited to drive more innovations like this from the ADC."