MS: Africa Needs Best Practices Forum

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-06-07 Print this article Print

Microsoft and local partners sponsor an IT forum to help Africa leap forward in technology.

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—Microsoft has signed a strategic partnership agreement with the government of this West African nation to invest in building its Information and Communication Technology capacities, and to support broader e-government initiatives to strengthen Burkina Fasos knowledge-driven economy. To that end, Microsoft and local partners launched the ICT Best Practices Forum - West and Central Africa here June 7, with the ambitious goal of bringing together governments, donors and experts from across Africa to share specific experiences of technology solutions in education, agriculture, health care and governmental operations.
Blaise Compaoré, president of Burkina Faso, noted that developing nations desperately need to quicken the pace of technology adoption.
"In the face of the digital divide that threatens to increase the marginalization of developing countries, we must step up the introduction of electronic communication infrastructures to seize the opportunities offered by new technologies," he said. "I would like this forum to be an occasion for African governments, their advisory institutions and ICT experts to share their experiences, so that we can build an inclusive information society to serve the sustainable development of our countries," Compaoré said. Microsoft and other ICT sponsors, including the African Development Bank and UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), said they expect this forum to become a model on which other African nations can build. To read more about the obstacles that abound in the quest to "connect Africa," click here. Abdoulie Janneh, executive secretary of UNECA, said that "by showcasing ICT at work through the forum, we can help West and Central African countries and stakeholders [hold] dialogue, brainstorm and learn how to practically accelerate socioeconomic development." Cheick Modibo Diarra, Microsoft chairman for Africa, said that a couple of years ago, some of Africas leading thinkers, politicians, scientists and entrepreneurs had started to talk about ways of accelerating development there. "We said, What if we shared real examples of the great strides taken in education, agriculture, finance, science and e-government, and created a forum to share best practices? We said, What if we brought heads of state, decision makers, international donors, civil society [and] technology experts, and business strategists together in one place, at one time, for that forum? … And we said, What if we identified which of those best practices could be replicated in our countries, and made that forum about action, not talk?" he told forum attendees. "Well, today we are here, at that very forum. And I promise, we are going to make it work," he said. Click here to read Microsoft Watch blogger Joe Wilcoxs perspective on Microsofts Unlimited Potential program in Africa. As he traveled around the continent, Diarra said, he was struck by the vision that many Africans shared of a vibrant, productive, competitive Africa at peace with itself, whose people were healthy, educated and mindful of their environment. "This shared vision is, despite what some may say, not beyond our reach. And it is forums like this, people like us and the actions that we take that will help make this vision a reality," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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