6 October 2005
Microsoft South Africa and the Universal Services Agency, an information and communications technology parastatal, and have announced a partnership to increase the number of South Africans with access to technology.
The parties signed an agreement setting up the partnership at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Johannesburg on Monday.
As part of the agreement, Microsoft SA’s digital villages – or community technology learning centres – will over the next three years be taken into the government’s network of multi-purpose community centres.
Microsoft SA currently runs 49 digital villages around the country, centres where community members can learn about computers and how to use them.
The government, for its part, has set up more than 50 multi-purpose community centres across SA – one-stop shops offering a range of government products and services, as well as educational, technological and other resources.
Microsoft has undertaken to provide free software, the sharing of its “unlimited potential” curriculum, as well as management and IT training for the new partnership.
Microsoft and the Universal Services Agency will partner in training multi-purpose community centre managers in IT and small business management, including training in facilitating discussions with communities, fundraising, and running a small business in the South African landscape.
Speaking at the signing, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said they hoped to reach over half a million people through the project.
“Through these community-driven partnerships we hope to make a positive impact on South Africa’s ‘second economy’,” Ballmer said.
“By working with NGOs and community leaders, we also anticipate assisting small businesses … to take advantage of information communications technology in their quest to succeed.”
Ballmer said Microsoft remained convinced of the power of technology as a social and economic enabler, and believed it was key to the promotion of sustainable growth and development for South Africa.