• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Microsoft’s $70m office to intensify competition for Nigerian engineering talents

Microsoft’s $70m office to intensify competition for Nigerian engineering talents

Competition for Nigerian software engineering talents is about to intensify with the formal unveiling of the Microsoft office and Africa Development Centre (ADC) on Monday 2022.

The sprawling office space occupying six floors on the King’s Tower, Ikoyi cost the tech giant $70 million to develop. Apart from housing the operations of the company in West Africa, the ADC centre will be a base for training and nurturing engineering talents on the continent.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, said the facility will improve employment and also contribute significantly to the training and rise of many tech giants in Nigeria.

“Based on the great feedback we have received from engineering leads working with teams in Nigeria, we are definitely going to hire more engineering talent. We will continue to focus on student and community engagements, as well as investments in Microsoft programs, that will help us build a diverse team of talented men and women.” Joy Chik, Corporate Vice President of the Identity and Network Access engineering team at Microsoft, and executive sponsor of the Africa Development Center.

Software engineers from Nigeria have in recent years become the main targets of many tech companies from around the world. A recent Google report attributes the growing attraction of Nigeria and African tech talents to the adoption of remote work accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of African developers in the workforce rose to 3.8 percent or, 716,000 making up 0.4 percent of the continent’s non-agricultural workforce.

Nigeria was the continent leader adding an estimated 5,000 new professional developers to its pool in 2021. Tech startups and corporations like Microsoft have hired a significant portion of these talents.

The number of Nigerian engineers working with Microsoft currently stands at 120, but the company says it has already surpassed its pledge to hire over 500 engineers in Africa by 2023.

Read also: Microsoft partners Tizeti to boost high-speed internet in Nigeria

Gafar Lawal, the Managing Director of ADC said Nigeria’s workforce population also makes her a prime environment for talent recruitment. He insists there is no scarcity of talents in the country, rather companies like Microsoft have yet to create adequate space for the talents that abound in Nigeria. For example, the company’s first vacancy advertisement in Nigeria in 2019 attracted over 1000 applicants.

The company has since made it a priority to create more opportunities for talents in Nigeria as well as in Africa.

In May 2019, Microsoft announced the establishment of the Africa Development Center (ADC) in Nigeria and Kenya, with the mission of creating innovative technology not just for Africa, but for the entire world. Afterwards, there was a call for talented engineers to work on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Mixed Reality, with the company committing to investing 100 million US dollars in the first five years of operation

So far Microsoft has invested over $200 million in skilling Nigerians. The acceleration in quality education has also contributed to the growth of talents and their attraction by global organisations.

The ADC, according to Lawal, has been an idea the company has been building inside for 10 years. With the launch, Microsoft will now look forward to recruiting its workforce from the talents that will be trained and nurtured in the centre.

“We have come a long way in the past 20 years; we have been able to skill 1.2 million Nigerians,” Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana. “We reached over 300,000 people during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ali Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy who attended the office space launch said Microsoft’s talent training efforts align with the government’s plan of supporting local talents in Nigeria, ensuring that they are gainfully employed.

The government is also reimagining technology by focusing its attention on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics. This has led to the creation of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence. Other areas of interest for the government include 5G and internet of things (IoT) and cyber security.

Pantami says the government is eager to support talents in these areas of focus.