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Microsoft chooses Ethiopia as one of Africa New Digital Development Programme

Addis Ababa, September 21, 2023 (FBC) – Belete Molla, Minister of Innovation and Technology of Ethiopia had a productive discussion with Microsoft senior leadership – Kate Behncken, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Philanthropies; Justin Spelhaug, Global Head, Tech for Social Impact, MS Philanthropies, and Alexandre Pinho, Global UN International Development – on technology collaboration and philanthropy intersect for the mutual benefit between Ethiopia and Microsoft on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York.

The Minister briefed the Microsoft leadership of Ethiopia’s current state in terms of technological advancement, digital transformation, and areas of growth, especially, on the importance of digital literacy and training for the Ethiopian youth.

He also highlighted Ethiopia’s potential as a Business Process Outsourcing (PBO) destination given its large, young, affordable, and trainable workforce, along with the country’s strategic location and time zone advantages. The Minister also discussed the initiatives and steps taken by Ethiopia to create a conducive environment for BPO, such as infrastructure development, training programs, and policy frameworks. The discussion aims to explore opportunities for Microsoft to consider Ethiopia as a potential BPO hub for its operations.

He also explained Ethiopia’s vision for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential to drive growth, innovation, and efficiency across various sectors.

He also elaborated Ethiopia’s desire for expanding its digital infrastructure; explore potential partnerships where Microsoft could play a role, such as in providing cloud services, data centers, or other technologies.

It was further highlighted Ethiopia’s emerging startup ecosystem and the potential for innovation.

They also discussed ways Microsoft could support Ethiopian startups, be it through funding, mentoring, or providing tools and resources.

The Minister mentioned about Digital Governance and Cybersecurity where he explained the need for secure digital platforms for governance and public services.

Microsoft has pinpointed how digital solutions could revolutionize sectors like healthcare and agriculture in Ethiopia; discuss potential partnerships, pilot projects, or initiatives where Microsoft’s technology can make a meaningful difference.

During the meeting, both sides reiterated the importance of the partnership.

Mr. Belete has expressed gratitude for Microsoft’s interest.

Both sides mutually agreed to take concrete steps in assigning a working team on both sides that will work on an action plan towards steps ahead.

The Microsoft leadership reiterated how these can serve as foundations for deeper collaborations with Microsoft; explore opportunities for Microsoft to assist in building AI capacities in Ethiopia, whether through educational programs, research partnerships, or investments in AI startups.

The Microsoft leadership has appreciated Ethiopia’s keen interest to partner with Microsoft.

Finally, MInT Minister Belete has thanked Microsoft to include Ethiopia to be one of the top 3 African countries for their new Digital Development Program, appreciating the team the fact that they are planning to visit Addis Ababa on the last week of October for the furtherance of the partnership.

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