What are the challenges mankind faces, how can technology help, and what is the contribution of Microsoft?
“Microsoft is empowering mission-driven organizations around the planet with a donation of cloud computing services — the most transformative technologies of our generation. Now more than 70,000 organizations will have access to technology that will help them solve our greatest societal challenges and ultimately improve the human condition and drive new growth equally.”
These are the words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who recently announced Microsoft’s commitment to providing ZMW11 Billion worth of Microsoft technologies to Universities and Non-Profit organizations from now until the end of 2017. The donation will come in three parts:
The first part will look at offering Microsoft services such as Office365, CRM Online, Azure, etc as either free services or at a discount. A lot of Universities around the world are already enjoying this first bit, i.e. the University of South Africa, which has a rather elaborate Office365 infrastructure for its students. Hopefully the University of Zambia will look at ditching Zimbra, which charges around ZMW60 per mail account.
The second part is called the Microsoft Azure for Research and will primarily target university research departments. The program will not only offer computing resources, but also free storage. Imagine the Copperbelt university having the ability to run Climate Change Simulations, without the added inconvenience of purchasing raw computing power, or the University Teaching Hospital having the ability to rapidly analyze decades of medical data that would help it better understand the effects of malaria prevention drug on infants? The platform currently has over 600 projects from various research institutions around the world.
The third part is what everyone from Google to Facebook is trying to do: bring low cost Internet services to the most remote corners of the world and to the most deprived populations. For example, Microsoft has been running Pilots in Ghana, Bostwana, Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa that utilize TV whitespaces to provide Internet services. A white space is simply an unused part of the wireless spectrum primarily within the television services frequency band that the project is using to deliver Internet services.
So, the real question then is for Zambia, could we benefit from this? Or are we lacking in innovation to realize the full potential of such a technology?
Source: ICT ZM