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Features, The Grid

Microsoft Invests $70M to Boost SMEs and AI Development in South Africa

Microsoft South Africa commits $70M to boost small, micro, and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) and advance AI development.  

  • Johnson Opeisa
  • 27th May 2024

Microsoft has intensified its efforts to boost South Africa’s growth, following the investment of over R1.3 billion ($70M) into small, micro, and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) and artificial intelligence (AI) transformation in the country.


The company aims to equip over 2000 SMMEs and over 2000 individuals with advanced AI know-how and other technical capabilities needed to increase economic growth and employability in the country.


The Fund will assist black South Africans in non-tech sectors to harness the power of technology and improve their competitiveness and ability to innovate and expand their operations. It will also act as a bridge to enable young people to get training, certification, and job placement so that talented South Africans gain access to the opportunities that arise from an increasingly digitalised world,” said Mr Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition.


The SMME development program aims to cultivate a comprehensive set of competencies among participating businesses, extending beyond just technical proficiencies specific to the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.


In addition to enhancing technical prowess, the program places significant emphasis on nurturing entrepreneurial acumen. This holistic approach is designed to empower these enterprises with the requisite skills to establish and sustain viable business ventures in South Africa, which will also serve as a job creation scheme.


Lillian Barnard, President of Microsoft Africa reechoes, “Consistent with our mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more, this investment represents our commitment to empowering individuals and small businesses to be part of Africa’s digital economy and to drive job creation and growth that will benefit the entire region.


“Transformative technologies, such as cloud and AI, have the potential to solve some of South Africa’s most pressing challenges, while also unlocking opportunities to fuel inclusive, sustainable economic growth.”


As part of this initiative, Microsoft has stated that the investment will fund about 20 cutting-edge research and development projects, poised to address both present-day and forthcoming policy requirements of South Africa in the cybersecurity and AI domains.


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