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COMESA Partners Microsoft to Promote Regional Trade in 19 African Countries

By Eric Ojo, Abuja

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has entered an agreement with Microsoft to promote access to technology, improve regional trade, develop public sector Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills and promote local innovation for better service delivery in its 19 member states.

COMESA through its Business Council (CBC) unit signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) which clearly sets out how both parties will collaborate and strengthening their working alliance in the areas of access to technology, development of relevant skills and the fostering of innovation in COMESA member states.

The MoU is also in line with the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative’s three core focus areas (World-class skills, Access and Innovation). It 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.

Moreover, the strategetic partnership is equally aimed at accelerating and promoting the adoption of innovative high-speed low-cost connectivity initiatives, including through new policy approaches to spectrum management such as dynamic spectrum access.

In addition, 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 said the collaboration is further expected to focus on fostering innovation across the COMESA region by promoting the value and protection of Intellectual Property.

Mr. Ngwenya added that the agreement 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, according to him, fits squarely with COMESA’s mandate and demonstrates the commitment to promote common interests for economic development in the region. The implementation of the MoU will be the responsibility of the COMESA Business Council, as the voice of the private sector in the region.

Antony Cook, Associate General Counsel, Legal and Corporate Affairs Microsoft, Middle East and Africa, also noted that the collaboration will bring policy makers and businesses together and empower them to take advantage of the cloud-first, mobile-first world.

Cook said 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. 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 influential partnerships, such as the one with COMESA, we aim to scale across the region further to impact not just thousands, but millions”, he further stated.


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