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By 15 June 2021 | Categories: news

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As with many other countries, the pandemic and its lockdowns, has had a negative effect on Africa's economic growth, with discussions ongoing about what growth measures need to be put in place to recover help industries devastated by the pandemic recover.

Today, Standard Bank and Microsoft offered a bit of hope and light for the continent’s growth, announcing a strategic partnership to this end, while simultaneously accelerating Standard Bank’s digital transformation.

The companies explained that by leveraging the power and reach of both organisations, the partnership will drive digital skills development, boost youth employment, and accelerate the growth of SMEs on the African continent.

Both organisations stressed their belief that digital transformation represents an opportunity for the continent to leap ahead, taking a leading role in enabling economic and societal growth in Africa.

More specifically, Microsoft and Standard Bank will leverage their combined research, industry, partner and start-up programmes to impact the continent – where similar opportunities and challenges exist – using technology such as mixed reality and artificial intelligence.

“Continuing to build on the partnership is part of the ongoing journey that Standard Bank and Microsoft are on to invest in digital transformation as the enabler of meaningful and tangible innovation. Our journey is underpinned by collaborative efforts to develop, scale and roll-out digital solutions that will deliver personalised services to 100 million Africans and by meeting their unique and evolving needs and demands,” explained Standard Bank Group Chief Executive, Sim Tshabalala.

Enabling Digital Transformation

The partnership further involves migrating workloads, applications, and platforms to Microsoft Azure to drive organisational efficiencies, as well as workforce collaboration with Azure, PowerApps, Workplace Analytics and Microsoft Teams.

“Investing in the cloud will allow Standard Bank to achieve its strategy to transform from a traditional financial services company into a digital platform company, providing financial services, plus ancillary and associated services. We have adopted a cloud-first strategy, underpinned by end-to-end security and data-driven insights that will enable transformation with tangible results,” elaborated Tshabalala.

“Standard Bank’s cloud-first strategy underlines the growing momentum in financial services to deliver differentiated experiences that today’s customers expect,” added Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s executive vice president of Worldwide Commercial Business.

Forging opportunity

Furthermore, the two companies committed to establishing the African Digital Foundry (The Foundry), a strategic alliance, for Standard Bank and Microsoft to collaborate to co-create unique solutions through new technology to meet the financial needs of Africa’s consumers.  Through the Foundry, the companies aspire to reach 100 million customers in Africa over the next five years.

“The Foundry is a digital initiative established in Africa, for Africans, to address the unique challenges the continent faces with customised innovations, services and solutions,” explained Tshabalala. “The partnership will further enhance and create ongoing collaboration between our firms around co-engineering solutions for African consumers’ unique needs.”

Given the high levels of unemployment in the country, there is a deep need for continued skills development, as well as the formentation of more SMEs to create new jobs. With this in mind, Microsoft and Standard Bank pledged to pool their resources and know-how to provide youth with the relevant digital skills needed to secure future-ready jobs and equip Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with digital skills and capabilities so that they can take advantage of the growing shift to digital technologies.  

“As a long-standing technology partner, we are pleased to collaborate with Standard Bank in realizing this strategy and in becoming Africa’s future-first financial services firm through digital skilling-focused initiatives that will expand economic opportunity for young people across Africa,” concluded Althoff.

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