Microsoft plans to increase digital connectivity and skills building in Africa

Microsoft has announced at the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC plans to deepen its work and scale commitments to providing digital connectivity and skills building in Africa.

Teresa Hutson, corporate vice-president of technology and corporate responsibility at Microsoft said the company is expanding its Airband Initiative through new partnerships with local and global providers to bring internet access to 100 million Africans by the end of 2025. In addition, Microsoft will expand its Skills for Jobs efforts in Africa to include a new cybersecurity skilling programme.

Microsoft will deepen its work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria and prioritise bringing Airband to new places in Africa including Egypt, Senegal, and Angola to deliver much-needed connections, often for the first time. Airband works through local and regional partnerships to think holistically about what solutions work best.

Hutson said Microsoft is partnering with sustainable energy access providers like M-KOPA, paired with local ISP Mawingu networks to offer services that address energy and internet connectivity challenges in Kenya.

In Ghana, Microsoft partnered with international ISP Bluetown to take a multi-technology approach – choosing fibre, microwave, satellite and TV white space (TVWS) to deliver services that meet local needs and take into consideration a community’s access to reliable power, proximity to a fibre connection, and geography such as hills or dense forest.

In addition, Microsoft will offer free access to LinkedIn cybersecurity courses as part of its Skills for Jobs program. This includes a new, free Career Essentials Certificate in Systems Administration from Microsoft and LinkedIn and multiple Microsoft courses in advanced cybersecurity. Working with nonprofit partners, Microsoft also will provide 12 months of LinkedIn premium access for the first 10,000 African learners that complete a Career Essentials Certificate in Systems Administration, helping them connect to jobs in the cybersecurity field.

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