Bloomberg News

Microsoft Boosts Staff in West, Central Africa in Bid for Growth

November 01, 2011

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, plans to hire staff and be “physically present” in West and central Africa’s French-speaking nations, regional General Manager Simon Ouattara said.

So far this year, the Redmond, Washington-based company has placed employees in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Guinea, Benin and Republic of Congo and plans to be present in all 17 Francophone nations in the region, as well as Cape Verde and Sierra Leone, Ouattara said in an interview in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, yesterday.

Microsoft wants to “support our partners better by placing the managers closer to them,” Victoria N’dee Uwadoka, marketing manager for the region, wrote in an e-mailed response to questions. “Our interest is basically to increase the business opportunities for Microsoft and also for our partners,” she said.

Ouattara said Microsoft wants to take advantage of investments other companies are making in the West African nation, which is seeking to lure investment and boost growth following a violent post-election crisis.

“There is a mass of initiatives and projects in the country at the moment, and a lot of companies are equipping themselves again in software,” he said.

Ivory Coast’s economy may contract 5.8 percent this year after the crisis that was sparked by ex-leader Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power to Alassane Ouattara after a November election. Businesses shut their doors, banks closed their branches and cocoa exports were largely halted in the world’s biggest producer of the chocolate ingredient.

In April, Gbagbo was captured in Abidjan and a month later, Ouattara sworn in as leader. The economy may expand 8.5 percent next year as cocoa exports and gold mining increases along with spending on electricity and roads.

Microsoft currently has offices in Senegal and Cameroon and staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the company’s Ouattara, who is not related to the president.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Ana Monteiro

To contact the reporter on this story: Olivier Monnier in Abidjan via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.


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