NIGERIA IS ONE OF MICROSOFTS FASTEST GROWING MARKETS, SAYS ILLUKWE

Computing

Microsoft has rolled out activities to mark its fifth year anniversary in Nigeria with an announcement that Nigeria is one of the fastest growing markets for Microsoft Corporation.

Country Manager of Microsoft in Nigeria, Gerald Ilukwe, says that the Nigeria market for Microsoft has maintained a consistent average growth rate of 40 per cent year-on -year within the last five years of its operations in the country. It disclosed that from a modest USD3.1 million as revenue in 2000 when it started operations in Nigeria, the company posted six times the initial figure by the close of business last year.

Ilukwe said Microsoft’s experience in Nigeria has been a success story in the area of the ability of the company to achieve its core value of being a local company. In this capacity as local player, the company has continually discharged services that have significantly developed various aspects of the larger Information Technology field thereby contributing to the overall success of its clientele and the public. "Within the last five years, we have tried to make Microsoft a local company in Nigeria; to make sure that what we are selling is relevant to our local environment," he said.

While chronicling the achievements of the company in Nigeria, he said it has added value to the government by being a key partner in driving the Federal Government Information Technology policies, adding that the company has played the leadership role in supporting initiatives that are favourable to the country.

This is even as the company in a bid to express more corporate responsibility is injecting about five hundred thousand quality computers at the lowest minimum cost under a programme it tagged, Computer for All Nigeria Initiative (CANI).

This programme which Ilukwe said was in partnership with Nigerian government and other IT companies is currently under test run and expected to flag off fully by early next year. It would have computers sold significantly lower than $500. The programme is the Nigerianisation of the Government Assisted Purchase programme (GAP) which has helped a lot of people all over the world, purchase computers at reduced prices and make payments over a period of time.

The two unique things about (CANI) according to Microsoft was that the power problem was taken into consideration to the extent that the PCs when distributed must go with Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) back up system. Another is that it is a painless acquisition having individuals who acquired these PCs, make payments over a period of twenty four months.

In the capacity of local player, the company said it has continually discharged services that have significantly developed various aspects of the larger Information Technology field thereby contributing to the overall success of its clientele and the public.

Ilukwe noted that Microsoft has added value to the government by being a key partner in driving the Federal Government Information Technology policies, adding that the company has played the leadership role in supporting initiatives that are favourable to the country.

With the theme, "Celebrating the Best of Nigeria" Microsoft said the anniversary would celebrate, in a very special way, various aspects of Nigeria that have achieved international repute and attention in a similar way the success stories of fields like sports and music have done.

The event is scheduled for 29th of September, 2005 and will be hosted by Mr. Ali Faramawy, Vice President EMEA and Regional Director MEA, Microsoft Corporation.

Flaunting its corporate character, Ilukwe said that Microsoft was able to work with system builders to establish a reputable local hardware industry which used to be a mass of unbranded locally assembled products derogatorily called clones, adding that now, there is a significant measure of respect when Zinox, Omatek and the rest are mentioned.

Explaining its involvement in the development of the Nigerian software sector, the company said it had in partnership with its local partners, been able to deploy software in the enterprise as well as working closely with allied bodies like ISPON, Nigerian Computer Society, NCS, in driving IT projects.

This he said, was aside other milestone achievements, including the opening of four Digital villages in the country of which two will be opened in November at Uyo and Katsina-Ala.

Apart from sponsoring local events and government programmes, Ilukwe said Microsoft has also been in the forefront of IT logistics for financial institutions caught in the web of the ongoing consolidation and integration process

Recalling its early days in Nigeria, Ilukwe disclosed that before Microsoft came to Nigeria, its West African operations were centred in Ivory Coast, but that the company had to come to Nigeria as a response to the government invitation for Foreign Direct Investment, (FDI) and as an adventure to explore the burgeoning market potentials of the country.

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