Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Microsoft plans to spend more than $100m over five years to open its first development centres in Africa to work with local partners and governments, as well as hire engineers.

Initial sites will be in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, and Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub. The software company plans to hire 100 full-time developers at the two sites by the end of 2019 and expand to 500 by the end of 2023, Microsoft said.

The Redmond, Washington-based company plans to use the sites to recruit African engineers to work in areas such as cloud services, which use artificial intelligence and applications for mixed reality — where customers use goggles to project 3-D images on to the real world.

Cloud technology companies like Microsoft, Amazon.com and Huawei Technologies are looking to expand in Africa to take advantage of growing telecommunications infrastructure and work in areas like e-commerce and mobile payments.

Microsoft has been partnering and looking for cloud customers in Africa where it has opened data centres in SA. Microsoft said it is working with Kenyan and Nigerian companies in areas like financial technology, energy and agriculture.

Cloud rival Amazon, whose Amazon Web Services is larger than Microsoft’s Azure, is also opening a data centre in Africa in 2020.