PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday evening unveiled the £27 million Microsoft Africa Development Centre, expressing optimism that the facility will bolster the Government’s quest to secure high-tech jobs in the digital space for the youth.
Speaking during the launch in Nairobi, President Kenyatta termed the Microsoft facility a ‘seminal development’ that endorses the international recognition of Kenya’s abundant high-tech workforce capabilities, business opportunities and conducive investment environment.
‘As a premier centre of research and development for Microsoft, we all remain confident that you – together with our young men and women – will build a local world class talent and create innovative technological solutions that will yield global positive impacts,’ President Kenyatta pointed out.
The centre is one of the largest software engineering facilities in Africa and sets the standard for a new generation of technology hubs across the continent.
‘As technology takes centre stage in the global economy and as the way we conduct business evolves before our very own eyes, tonight we are again shattering yet another glass ceiling and once again cementing Kenya’s place as Africa’s leading technology powerhouse,’ the President said.
He noted that Microsoft has also partnered with local universities and start-ups to provide training and skills to create job opportunities for over 200,000 young Kenyans in support of the digital economy, saying the company has become a strong and true partner to Kenya since the setting up of its office in the country.
The President cited the creation of 431 full time jobs for Kenyans in the fields of software development, programme management, technical design, content writing, operations, research and applied science as examples of the benefits of the mutually beneficial partnership between the government and the Microsoft company.
‘Microsoft has strengthened research, technology and skills through projects such as “Mawingu” that connects the unconnected and the ‘one million farmers platform’ for improving crop yields,’ President Kenyatta added.
He appreciated that Microsoft has supported the adoption of green energy and sustainability solutions at the unveiled development centre through self-heat regulating windows, a mini solar plant that will power the facility and a water treatment facility to recycle and purify water.
As the future of work continues to evolve driven by exponential technological changes, President Kenyatta said the country has started to reap the dividends of the decade-long investments in ICT infrastructure.
‘The sustained investments in the ICT sector continue to enable our youth to prepare for a dignified digital-driven future of work opportunities in areas such as block chain, artificial intelligence, remote work, online marketplaces and new national and global e-business opportunities,’ the President said.
Microsoft Vice President Joy Chik said the new facility is among other development centres across the globe that are geared towards training world class engineers who will create global products and services.
She pointed out that the centre has already employed more than 450 engineers in Kenya as well as 500 employees in other areas.
‘We have already surpassed the 500 engineers we originally pledged to hire by 2023. Today, the Africa development centre employs about 570 engineers working on identity and network access, mixed reality, Microsoft 365 as well as connected services and experiences,’ she said.
Microsoft Africa Development Centre Managing Director Jack Ngare also spoke at the event attended by senior Government officials led by Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua.