Microsoft Launches Africa Development Centre in Lagos to Usher in the 3rd Era of Computing

Ejike Kanife
Akin Banuso, country manager for Microsoft Nigeria.

Microsoft launches Africa Development centre in Lagos and while many may think it came a little late for Africa, Microsoft bosses think what ultimately matters is that it is here all the same.

Microsoft Development Centres aren’t a recent introduction as they previously exist in 6 places around the world before now. So what prompted this arrival to Lagos and how could it be harnessed and exploited to the fullest?

Michael Forton, Akin Banuso and Alex Kipman

In a media chat held before the launch, three senior members of Microsoft leadership took their time to explain what the Africa Development Centre in Lagos means, at least to the company.

Microsoft General Manager for Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon, Akin Banuso explained that with over 200 jobs created in customer care alone, Microsoft is obviously geared to produce jobs with the ADC project. But he promises something more. Something better.

“With the Africa Development Centre comes the potential for youths to participate in world class computing and to have an input in products consumed globally,” he says.

Akin Banuso, GM of MS for Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon

Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Michael Fortin says the computer giants simply want to hire the best local software engineers Africa has to offer.

“It’s been a dream and an aspiration and now, it’s a reality,” he says. “There’s a sizeable talent pool in Africa and we believe we can be more successful by having a presence here.”

Michael Fortin, Corporate vice president, Microsoft

Mr Fortin further reiterates that Microsoft intends to hire 100 software engineers by the end of this year and 500 after 3 years.

Alex Kipman, Technical fellow for Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality at Microsoft agreed with Mr Fortin, revealing that the company already hired 10 Nigerian engineers.

“The (10) talents hired in Nigeria are some of the best in the world,” he says.

He then delved into the story of how sad he was to leave his family in Brazil to work and learn at Microsoft in the US. Bringing development centres closer to people is thus needed “so people don’t have to leave their families to contribute in building of tech around the world.”

Alex Kipman, technical fellow, Microsoft

Mr Kipman then talked about AI and MR, describing them as the phenomena that will define the third era of computing. Thus, for both humans and robots, the third era will be seeking answers to 4 simple questions: Who or what you are; Where you are; What you are doing; and how you’re feeling.

“The future of computing is going to be born in Africa, where humanity began. African engineers will be the tip of the spear that will define the future of computing,” he concludes.

TechNext reporter at the event brought to mind the thinning global market especially in the face of competition and wondered if Microsoft isn’t just expanding into Africa as an alternative exploitable market, and not exactly because they otherwise would have wanted to.

Mr Banuso replied on the contrary insisting Microsoft is doing this because it’s the right thing to do.

“Africa is the cradle of civilisation,” he says. “We should have been here. What ultimately matters is that we are here now and we are the first ones here. It is a long-term commitment. “You can’t build products for everyone without building it everywhere,” he says.

Mr Fortin supported his colleague explaining that the question takes us back to the mission of the company which is to empower every person in every organisation in the world to achieve more.”

Alex Kipman rounded it up by pointing out that by 2035, the average working population in Africa will be larger than China, India and the US combined. Coupled with that, in the years to come, the continent is also expected to do better with the areas they are lacking in like infrastructure, policy and regulation etc.

Thus Microsoft is adopting a principle of ‘strategic patience’. A strategy which enables tham take the first step and ride the waves.

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