South Africa might just have got a leg up from Microsoft in its bid to become a regional technology hub with the unveiling of the new Microsoft Technology Centre (MTC), the first in Africa.
The MTC is a high-tech melting pot of a facility filled with millions of rands of hardware and devices that Microsoft says will help local companies (of all sizes) to become more globally competitive by aiding the development of “next-generation solutions” for their most pressing business problems.
The best way to think of the centre is as a “technology think-tank on digital steroids.” No matter the kind of problem you might have with your company, the MTC hosts developers and experts who can help you explore new ways to say, grow your business, improve an offering or process, or optimise the technology you may already own.
Mteto Nyati, Microsoft SA’s managing director, says the MTC is a “massive investment,” but it will play a major role in taking Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative to the next level. The initiative, which was launched earlier this year, aims to drive innovation opportunities on the continent, develop skills and also expand access to broadband – which we can see evidence of with Microsoft’s white spaces project.
“This centre is all about collaboration and building an entire ecosystem of innovation. We want to dramatically speed up the pace of innovation, and help our customers and partners slash the time it takes to get solutions and applications to market,” said Nyati.
Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said at the MTC launch that both South Africans and Africans need to develop home-grown tech solutions and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, especially with the youth of the continent.
“There has never been a better time for businesses, government and youth to develop solutions that can address a range of challenges. Technology hubs like these can only enhance our capacity to provide innovative solutions ot the most pressing social and business challenges facing our country and continent,” said Hanekom.
The MTC will be available to anyone wanting to test a solution before taking it to market, such as app developers, startups, and students. It includes “purpose-built environments” such as:
- a data centre
- fully-equipped developer suite
- three “envisioning” centres and a retail store in partnership with Incredible Connection.
The centre also offers a “boot-camp curriculum” of software and hardware customisation through three-stages – strategy briefings, architectural design, and proof of concept – at no cost.