Microsoft eyes software millions with Uhuru deal

President Uhuru Kenyatta meets the Microsoft global president, Jean-Philippe Courtois at State House, Nairobi. Looking on is ICT cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i. PPS

What you need to know:

  • Microsoft to train teachers for free while providing laptop software at discounted fee.
  • The government intends to offer free laptops to all class one going children totalling about 1.5 million pupils beginning next year.

Microsoft is set to earn billions of shillings from supply of software for the free laptop plan after it signed a deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta to support the school-based computer idea.

Microsoft will train all primary school teachers for free to enable them implement the laptop plan and in return will feed the computers with its own software at discounted rate.

The government intends to offer free laptops to all class one going children totalling about 1.5 million pupils beginning next year with the first phase of the exercise expected to cost Sh17 billion.

The partnership will see the US software giant in partnership with other operators develop at least five enterprises in each county to provide technical support in hardware, connectivity and software to all schools.

The government expects to save at least Sh8 billion from the training of teachers but it will spend billions of shillings on the laptops and educational software that will be attached to the portable computers.

“Microsoft will supply the software at discounted rates to support the project,” Bitange Ndemo, the information permanent secretary told Business Daily on Tuesday without giving figures.

Microsoft is expected earn to annual fees from each computer that will be attached with its software, which is expected to run into hundreds of millions based on analyst’s estimation.

But the earnings could run into billions of shillings as the new administration rolls out is flagship campaign promise to more students. 

“The training component has removed a big headache for the government since it was going to use billions of shillings to train only 66,000 but now Microsoft has agreed to train all the primary teachers,” added Dr Ndemo.

The president has directed the ministries of education and information communication and technology to work closely together with Microsoft in order to come up with a framework of rolling out the programme immediately.

“In welcoming the support of Microsoft, President Kenyatta said his Government is ready to enter into partnerships that will facilitate the implementation of ICT programmes in the country in a cost-effective manner,” read a statement by the Presidential Press Service PPS. 

President Kenyatta met Microsoft global president Mr. Jean-Philippe Courtois in State House on Monday.

Mr Courtois’ visit underlines the growing quest by global tech giants including Google for a piece of Africa’s IT market. The teachers will be trained on basic computer literacy and get certificates on International Computer Driving License (ICDL).

The president also asked Microsoft to develop a sustainable model that includes local assembly of computers as well as local software and content development which can be replicated in other African countries.

The US software giant said it plans to develop a research and innovation hub at Konza Technology Park to support software developers in the country and provide Internet connectivity to rural schools and hospitals.

Microsoft has been working with governments across Africa to subsidies software in learning institutions and its partnership with Kenya is just one of its latest move to deepen its share of the continent’s IT business.

Mr Kenyatta assured Mr Courtois that his government will provide all the facilitation needed to roll out the project in line with the existing laws and regulations.

Emphasizing that the country has great potential to be a global centre of ICT, the president said he will not allow Kenya to be a recipient of content, saying that his government will empower citizens, especially the youth, to develop ICT programmes themselves.

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