ITWeb Africa by Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
July 2, 2014
Nigeria holds the key for Microsoft’s future growth in Africa, according to the company’s former South African managing director Mteto Nyati.
Nyati made this statement at a media briefing on Tuesday, when he announced his promotion as the general manager for Microsoft’s Middle East and Africa (MEA) emerging regions.
For the past six years, Nyati led Microsoft South Africa as the unit’s managing director. His promotion to an emerging region role means that is expected to oversee countries such as Nigeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan.
At the briefing, Nyati explained that Microsoft expects its African business to double in size over the next four to five years, but he declined to disclose current revenues.
“Nigeria being a country that has the biggest potential for us,” said Nyati.
Nigeria has come more sharply into Microsoft’s focus this year.
The software giant has appointed South African IT veteran Kabelo Makwane as Microsoft Nigeria country manager.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has this month joined South Africa and Egypt in being self-sufficient business units that manage their own resources.
South Africa; though, is Microsoft’s biggest business unit on the continent.
Earlier this year, Makwane told ITWeb Africa that Nigerian revenues are six times smaller than that of the South African office.
But Nigeria has a booming economy that has recorded over 6% annual growth over the last five years, and a population that surpasses 160 million people.
Nigeria also overtook South Africa this year as the continent’s biggest economy owing to a gross domestic product (GDP) recalculation.
More broadly speaking, Microsoft doesn’t have a physical presence in all 35 countries in the MEA region.
However, that could change, Nyati said.
“We are looking for growth, we are looking at making investments in these areas and looking at helping country leaders of these territories to drive growth for the Microsoft corporation.
“Our view about these countries is that we are seeing the opportunities in the long term, ” he said.
Nyati also announced that the South African operations is being led by the company’s former chief operating officer, Zoaib Hoosen.
Hoosen has been with Microsoft SA for the past three years.
Going forward Microsoft SA intends focus on skills and entrepreneurship to create jobs, affordable access and devices, Hoosen told the audience.
“I am really excited about the potential and through this how we will be able to create jobs and really enable South Africa to drive our economic development and become more globally competitive. I look forward to the new challenge,” he said.