President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration is willing to partner multinational technology company, Microsoft Corporation, to make Nigeria the African epicenter for innovative emerging technology.

The President stated this on Friday  while receiving the President of Microsoft Corporation, Brad Smith, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, accompanied by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami.

According to the President, emerging technologies are playing a vital role in the subsisting Fourth Industrial Revolution, the process to which he observed many resourceful Nigerian companies have made their contributions by developing groundbreaking solutions.

He, however, expressed appreciation to Microsoft for citing the African Development Centre, a $200 million-worth engineering hub, in Nigeria, adding that the country stands poised to welcome more initiatives and investments in digital technology.

President Buhari said he launched the Nigerian National Broadband Plan on the 19th of March 2020, with the aim of expanding broadband access across Nigeria and Microsoft’s connectivity initiative aligns with the plan.

“I believe it would be very useful and mutually beneficial to both Microsoft and Nigeria if your connectivity project is expanded beyond the current four locations in this country.

“Emerging technologies play a key role in digital transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a number of indigenous companies have developed very useful solutions. We are willing to partner with Microsoft to make Nigeria the epicenter for innovative emerging technology in Africa.

“I have been informed that the African Development Centre in Nigeria is Microsoft’s first engineering hub in Africa as the current investment stands at about $200 million.

“I have also been informed of Microsoft’s skilling initiative that aims to train five million citizens and provide 27,000 jobs over the next three years. These initiatives are commendable and I urge you to expand them and continue to prioritize Nigeria as you roll out your global initiatives”, he said.

President Buhari told the visiting Microsoft team that as the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, Nigeria was positioned to play a strategic role in the global technology ecosystem and seek the right partnerships to harness the potentials.

He said one of such key partnerships was in the area of capacity building.

Prof. Pantami noted that 320,000 Nigerians have also been trained on digital skills by the technology company.

The President of Microsoft and Vice Executive Chairman said the company will keep creating jobs to help build technology that will change the world, noting that the “multi-tasking approach” also stretches to digital infrastructure.

“We pledge to train five million people in Nigeria in the future,” Smith said, noting “60,000 people had already enrolled for courses while 300,000 had completed various courses.” The President of Microsoft said the company had gone into partnership with other companies to increase Internet and broadband penetration, while efforts have been advanced in innovating technology that will fight corruption and preserve cultural heritages, like languages.