New Microsoft boss for Africa

Diarra’s responsibilities in this new role, according to a statement released by the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions giant, include fostering relationships with stakeholders throughout the continent in order to drive an understanding of information, communication and technology (ICT) potential in development. He will also be responsible for identifying ways in which Microsoft can continue to work across Africa through its existing programmes and initiatives including the Partners in Learning and Pathfinders Foundation for Education and Development that is running in such countries as Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa as well as in West and North Africa. Diarra is a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of science and technology as well as the development of entrepreneurs. He is also the founder and president of Pathfinder. “We see the appointment of Diarra as a demonstration of our commitment to Africa and the realization of its Millennium Development Goals,” says Ali Faramawy, vice-president for the Middle East and Africa at Microsoft. On his new appointment, Diarra says he believes the continent faces numerous challenges ‘ not least of which include education, infrastructure and access to technology. “Through my appointment, Microsoft,” he says, “has taken the lead and will work to establish a broad-based partnership with private sector and non-governmental organisations to improve the continent through education and find ways to bridge the digital divide.” In the statement announcing the appointment, Microsoft said Diarra would work extensively across Africa to identify additional opportunities to work with the governments of the region to bring the benefits of information technology to the doorstep of as many of the continent’s citizens as possible. Diarra is the founder and president of the Africa Summit on Science and New Technologies SASNET.) A renowned and respected academic, scientist and researcher, he is vice-president of the United Nations World-Science Ethics Committee, and a member of the Independent Commission on Africa and the Millennium. Diarra is also the first chief executive officer of the African Virtual University and a member of the Africa Union for the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development Panel on Biotechnology. “We look forward to the expertise, understanding and passion that Dr Diarra brings to Microsoft and are excited about the inroads that we can continue to make as part of our ongoing partnership with NEPAD and communities throughout the continent,” says Faramawy of the new chairman who is also a recipient of the African Lifetime Achievement Award.

April 2006
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