In 2006, during a visit to South Africa, UNIDO Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella, signed a significant agreement with software giant Microsoft Corporation while attending the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Africa (GLF) in Cape Town.

This agreement will serve to assist UNIDO in its effort to tackle the root causes of poverty by promoting innovative uses of information and communication technology (ICTs), supporting entrepreneurship, promoting investment and creating business opportunities, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa.

DG Yumkella said at the signing ceremony, “We need to trigger a process of sustainable economic development, or, as it has been called, a process of unleashing entrepreneurship at all levels: from transnational corporations down to micro-enterprises.” UNIDO expects its cooperation with Microsoft to stimulate the knowledge base and growth of SMEs in the region, which is a key way to help foster a thriving economy that creates wealth and brings down poverty levels.

In concrete terms, the agreement has the following components:

  • Assisting governments with the development of national ITC strategies and policies;
  • Promoting the development and growth of SMEs through effective application and use of ITCs;
  • Fostering the development of a local software economy;
  • Promoting e-business and e-government initiatives.