UNDP and Microsoft Announce Technology Partnership To Combat Poverty in Developing Nations

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2004 — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Microsoft Corp. today announced a technology partnership to create and implement information and communications technology projects that will help developing countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates (L) and Mark Malloch-Brown, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, announcing a technology alliance for developing nations at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2004. Click image for high-res version.

Under the agreement, announced at the Annual Meeting 2004 of the World Economic Forum in Davos by UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, Microsoft and the UNDP will work together to build capacity in developing countries around the world, by providing technology-enabled training for youth and adults in community education centers. By providing skills training, content, curricula and other new resources, this partnership will help expand UNDP’s ongoing development efforts and will encourage the exploration of creative, technology-based solutions to the world’s most pressing development challenges. The alliance will draw on the resources of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential program, the company’s global initiative to deliver computer literacy and job skills training to underserved communities.

In addition, Microsoft and UNDP have agreed to work together in support of UNDP’s Southern Africa Capacity Initiative (SACI). In this sphere, Microsoft and UNDP will explore innovative opportunities to use technology to build capacity, facilitate e-government initiatives,and improve the delivery of basic services in countries most adversely affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

“Technology is a powerful tool that can help transform lives, economies and societies,” Gates said. “We’re committed to working closely with the UNDP to develop solutions that enable people to achieve their goals and strengthen their communities.”

Under the agreement, Microsoft and UNDP will identify opportunities to build on their existing programs and resources, combining technology innovation with development experience to benefit the world’s poor. By strengthening community centers in developing countries, the partnership will play a valuable role in helping communities cultivate the skills required for success in today’s information society. UNDP and Microsoft are now examining potential jointly supported pilot projects in Egypt, Mozambique and Morocco, and will expand these efforts to other countries in the coming months.

“We know that information technology, used in the right way, can be harnessed to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” Malloch Brown said. “We look forward to exploring opportunities with Microsoft to see how technology can be made to deliver on its promise in development.”

Microsoft and the UNDP have already collaborated on a pilot project to provide technology access and skills training at 16 regional centers in Afghanistan, in the aftermath of the country’s military and political upheaval. The training centers, located in Kabul and surrounding areas, will help build a skilled pool of IT professionals in a country where Internet skills and services technology had once been suppressed. It is projected that the centers will provide training to nearly 12,000 Afghan citizens annually.

About Microsoft Unlimited Potential

Microsoft has committed $1 billion in cash, software, curriculum and technology assistance over the next five years to Unlimited Potential and other efforts to help reduce the global digital divide. Since May 2003, the company has made grants of cash and software totaling nearly $50 million to more than 150 programs in 45 countries.

Microsoft Unlimited Potential is a global program that focuses on improving lifelong learning for underserved young people and adults by providing technology skills through community-based organizations around the world. Microsoft provides community centers with funding to launch or sustain IT skills training programs, including hiring and training technology instructors, and expanding course offerings to reach a broader base of underserved community members. Microsoft has developed curricula that emphasize real-world technology applications and will initially be available in English, French, German and Spanish. In the near future, Microsoft will work with partners to launch a global support network to deliver technology research, tools and services to training centers worldwide.

More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/citizenship/.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

About UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is on the ground in 166 countries, advocating for change and connecting people and their governments to knowledge, experience and resources to help build a better life. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners to put into practice their own solutions to global and national development challenges. UNDP also helps developing countries attract and use aid effectively and integrates information and communications technology for development into its work.

UNDP has been a pioneer in the field of Information and Communications Technology for Development since the early 1990s. It has helped over 50 developing countries connect to the Internet, promoted the creation of close to 100 local not-for-profit ISPs catering to development partners, supported the creation of over 100 telecenters, trained over 10,000 stakeholders in the use and application of ICT as a tool for development, and worked closely with many countries in integrating ICT into poverty alleviation policies and local development agendas. UNDP centers all its ICT interventions on the principle that technology per se will not address or solve any of the development issues, unless accompanied by relevant development policies, knowledge and expertise.

UNDP’s Southern Africa Capacity Initiative (SACI)

The Southern Africa Capacity Initiative is a regional project developed by the United Nations Development Programme to help nine countries which have among the world’s highest rates of HIV prevalence. The initiative will help strengthen the capacity of these countries to effectively manage and deliver critical social services. SACI will help provide empirically based policy analysis, new approaches to training and service delivery, as well as deploying appropriate technological innovations in specific areas around e-governance, data collection as well as expanding service delivery and community outreach.

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