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Microsoft has made a move to listen to, and represent, the youth demographic in Africa by adding the first four youth members to its 4Afrika Advisory Council — the external board of advisers that guide the strategic investments undertaken by the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative.
Launched one year ago, the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative has the goal to facilitate, and act as the vehicle to drive, Microsoft’s engagement in Africa’s economic development, designed to improve Africa’s global competitiveness.
The exact role of these four “ambassadors” will be to represent issues facing Africa’s youth across rural and urban populations such as those of unemployment, education, and access to technology — hopefully helping Microsoft make investments that empower and enable the continent’s youth, particularly in the ICT sector.
“The information and communications technology (ICT) field is not only redefining how we conduct our major businesses on the continent, it is increasingly improving the efficiency of critical support services, such as education, health, and disaster mitigation and management. The young demographic is playing a big role in integrating new solutions to these services, and this has helped create new industries and employment opportunities,” said H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, chairman, Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council.
The four youth members added to the 4Afrika Advisory Council are:
- Akaliza Keza Gara (Rwanda): An entrepreneur and founder of multimedia company Shaking Sun, Gara is a mentor at open technology hub kLab in Kigali and a member of Girls in ICT Rwanda. Gara is currently setting up an animation studio to create cartoons and films for African children.
- Chude Jideonwo (Nigeria): An award-winning journalist, media entrepreneur and youth development expert, Jideonwo is co-founder and managing partner of RED, an innovative media company that owns the Future Awards Africa, the continent’s premier youth event. Jideonwo also founded Enough Is Enough Nigeria, one of Nigeria’s foremost civic groups, and has been awarded several accolades, including being selected by the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper.
- Tayeb Sbihi (Morocco): A Moroccan entrepreneur, Sbihi has a bachelor of science, a master of science and an MBA, and he has 10 years of professional experience in multinational companies specializing in new technologies. With a wide knowledge of the telecoms market, he founded his first company, B2N Consulting, offering a wide range of telecom services and solutions to Morocco and Africa.
- Olivia Mukam (Cameroon): A social activist and entrepreneur, Mukam was a student when she helped solve the problem of waterborne diseases in West Cameroon by giving 5,000 villagers access to clean water. She then founded the NGO Harambe to engage Cameroonian youth to be national problem solvers. Thousands of youth were trained with business skills, and the for-profit business that Mukam co-founded, Solutioneurs SARL (LLC), taps into the Harambe database of skills to deliver affordable solutions to small businesses in Cameroon, Nigeria, the U.K and the U.S.
The new members represent different fields and countries, selected from a pool of candidates from existing African youth leadership groups such as the African Leadership Network and the World Economic Forum’s Forum of Young Global Leaders. The council will meet in person twice annually but hold regional meetings throughout the year.
Mkapa adds, “…we are excited about the induction of the new 4Afrika Advisory Council youth members because it helps the initiative stay true to the spirit of youth, enterprise and innovation.”