The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa through the COMESA Business Council (CBC) and Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) have taken a step toward strengthening their working alliance today by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which sets out how they will collaborate in the areas of access to technology, development of relevant skills and the fostering of innovation in COMESA’s 19 member States . This is in line with the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative’s three core focus areas (World-class skills, Access and Innovation).
The MoU will promote access to technology to COMESA Member States based on a Trusted Cloud Infrastructure that focuses on the secure deployment of modern IT operations. It is also expected this collaboration will accelerate and promote the adoption of innovative high-speed low-cost connectivity initiatives, including through new policy approaches to spectrum management such as dynamic spectrum access. It will also encourage the use of cloud technologies through the adoption of important enabling policies in the areas of cyber-security, data privacy and data protection.
Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya, COMESA’s Secretary General during the signing, said: “Business technology has revolutionized the way countries and firms conduct business. We are in an age where the planning processes of organizations is through instruments and solutions that promote quality management, and respond to age –old constraints of time limitations and high costs of operations.”
“Through Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, we have been working to increase regional trade and the growth of the knowledge economy in Africa,” says Antony Cook, Associate General Counsel, Legal and Corporate Affairs Microsoft, Middle East and Africa. “Through influential partnerships, such as the one with COMESA, we aim to scale across the region further to impact not just thousands, but millions.”
The collaboration is further expected to focus on fostering innovation across the COMESA region by promoting the value and protection of Intellectual Property. It will also encourage the development of eGovernment solutions that will facilitate, simplify and stimulate investment in and trade across the COMESA region to save on time and the cost of complying with business governance and regulations. This collaboration fits squarely with COMESA’s mandate and demonstrates the commitment to promote common interests for economic development in the region.
“Through this collaboration, we will bring policy makers and businesses together and empower them to take advantage of the cloud-first, mobile-first world. With the right policies and regulations in place, people will be encouraged to use cloud technology, develop their own IP and ultimately participate in trade and e-commerce across borders. With innovative eGovernment services, citizens and businesses will additionally benefit from safe online transactions, open borders, efficiency and increased foreign investment,” adds Cook.
The implementation of the MoU will be the responsibility of the COMESA Business Council, as the voice of the private sector in the region.