South Africa’s Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC) acquired R 1.3 billion ($70 million) through a 10-year financial agreement deal with Microsoft South Africa (SA) to develop Small, micro, and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs), increase employment, and prepare local businesses for Artificial intelligence(AI) advancements.

Kalane Rampai, the Managing Director of Microsoft SA, acknowledged before signing the agreement that it is essential for South Africans to partake in the AI revolution. This will improve their work while providing relevant skills and exposing various opportunities for individuals who are ready to acquire AI skills.

“Last year, we discussed how AI technology was a breakthrough, and if you’re not taking apart already, you are behind,” he added.

According to the DTIC, the investment funds will be diverted into an initiative valued at R663 million( $34.6 million) focusing on businesses owned and managed by black South African entrepreneurs and finding innovative solutions to Disruptive technology.

Also, R347 million( $18.9 million) part of the funds will serve as an initiative for skills acquisition, certification courses, and leadership programs that will empower the youths.

Meanwhile, R160 million( 18.7 million) will be spent on research programs through research and development initiatives. These initiatives are expected to boost the country’s AI transformation and economy.

Last month, the country revealed its national AI plan following the establishment of the AI Institute of South Africa (AIISA) in 2022 and the Center for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) in 2011, aiming to use AI to develop the economy, enhance work efficiency and solve societal issues.

Rampai further stated that the investment provides the SMMEs with opportunities through digital and AI transformation, as SMMEs contribute close to 40% of the SA’s GDP and 50% of the workforce, which backs the country’s economy.

Lillian Barnard, Microsoft SA’s president, expressed the significance of the investment and its contributions to sustainable growth and development in Africa, which aligned with Microsoft’s plan to empower individuals and local businesses with digital opportunities to enrich the continent.

Earlier this month, the military academy launched the Defence Artificial Intelligence Research Unit (DAIRU) in Saldanha, Western Cape, to adopt AI potential in the Defence system and national development and security.

Ismail Salau
Ismail Salau
I'm Salau Ismail, a content writer, Student researcher and an undergraduate at Obafemi Awolowo University, I'm passionate about Health and Personal development. I craft contents that informed and engaged my audience.

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