Posted by Simon Ouattara
General Manager for Microsoft West and Central Africa
As a twelve year veteran of Microsoft on the African continent, I’ve watched with great excitement the incredible growth within the ICT sector in Africa – and seen first-hand the power of technology to transform the lives of people, businesses and governments.
As an Ivorian, I have experienced first-hand my country’s years of conflict and struggle. But I also bear witness to incredible positive transformation taking place here. I’m more bullish now than ever in my optimism for the future. And I believe that ICT will undoubtedly be a conduit for the acceleration of growth in the country.
On the sunny, cool morning of 21 February, 2012, Microsoft opened the doors of its new office in Abidjan - the second-largest in the company’s West and Central Africa region – a move made to accommodate Microsoft’s rapidly expanding staff and partner network in the country; one which I celebrated alongside my Microsoft colleagues, our partner organizations, and several honourable ministers of ICT and Education including His Excellency the Minister of ICT, Mr. Kone Bruno, and Her Excellency the Minister of Education, Mme. Kandia Camara.
The expansion of our office in Abidjan marks an important milestone for Microsoft in the region, as it signals the promise of the ICT sector, and speaks to our commitment and passion to the rebuilding and future prosperity in the country.
One of the many highlights of the day was the signing of the strategic framework agreement with the government of Côte d’Ivoire outlining a plan to increase the use of ICT in the public sector, for enhancing teaching and learning, for increasing youth employability and for increasing access to technology beyond the urban cities to improve the standard of living and access to information and services in the rural areas.
Our partner network is just one positive indicator of an increasingly stabilized and healthy environment in the country. Today, we have more than 130 partners in Côte d'Ivoire who develop, sell, deploy and support solutions in this important region. The vast majority of those partners are small and medium sized businesses, who have a dramatic impact on local job creation, earning an average of $11 for every dollar Microsoft makes and re-investing that into the Ivorian economy.
We know there will be challenges. But we at Microsoft, together with our partners and the Côte d'Ivoire government, are emerging from the recent conflicts with hope and an eye towards leveraging technology to bring about positive change in the country. We’re excited and honoured to play a role in driving what’s next.