Otema, a native Ghanaian with over 14 years of ICT experience, has been at the helm of Microsoft’s investment in Ghana from September, and today Microsoft officially confirmed her as Country Manager, as a public confirmation of its ongoing investment in this critical market. She will be Microsoft’s first female country manager on the African continent and holds a BSc degree in Industrial and Labour Relations, as well as an MA in Development Studies.
“This is an exciting time when the country is rapidly transforming, both economically and socially,” Otema says. “I hope to inspire a culture of innovation driven by technology and I am excited to be leading Microsoft’s era of expansion in Ghana.”
“We have seen tremendous growth in broadband availability and internet penetration in Ghana, as well as the introduction of newer devices such as tablets and smartphones, which have fundamentally changed how consumers experience and use technology,” says Otema.
Otema’s focus in Ghana is on continuing to improve access to technology, skills development opportunities and resources. “I think once African entrepreneurs have increased access, affordable technologies and the ability to monetise innovative ideas, they will create solutions that solve many of the economic and social challenges confronting Africa,” she says.
One of Microsoft’s core projects in the country is its partnership with the Ghanaian Ministry of Education and the British Council, to set up ICT hubs in local schools and communities to accelerate digital literacy across the country. Falling under a regional project called Badiliko, 17 digital hubs have been created in Ghana and Microsoft has trained 26 local Master Trainers who are serving as Digital Ambassadors and School Leader Facilitators in the hubs, helping over 1,700 people in Ghana become trained to date.
The firm which has been operating in Ghana through its partner ecosystem for 10 years says Ghana remains one of its critical investment markets in Africa and Otema’s appointment is an investment in Microsoft Ghana’s future growth as it as it shifts its global focus to devices and services offering.
Ghana’s current mobile penetration rate is at an estimated 112%, after the country hit the 100% mark at the end of 2012. These numbers are the highest in Africa, placing Ghana 49th in the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
“This always-on, always-connected era that we find ourselves in holds new promise for what technology can bring to people’s lives and to businesses. And it gives us an opportunity to use our technology, talent, time and money to help create sustainable growth in the country and across the African continent.”
Over the years and through a number of programmes, Microsoft has trained 15, 000 teachers, impacted over one million students, created over 1, 800 jobs, and supported 35 successful startups in Ghana. The company’s flagship African investment and growth initiative, Microsoft 4Afrika, was launched in February this year to actively engage in Africa’s economic development, and has further entrenched the company’s commitment to Ghana and its people, ensuring that technology plays a key role in the developing economy.
Building on the success of its programmes and initiatives in Africa, Microsoft continues its commitment to a strong, successful history on the continent and strategic economic hubs like Ghana will become more integral partners to its African business strategy.
“We are delighted to have Otema on board in this critically important role,” says Hennie Loubser, General Manager of West, East, Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands. “She has the track record and credentials to help grow this dynamic market, and she is deeply committed to Africa’s economic development.”