Leadership changes at Microsoft SA

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 02 May 2023
Lillian Barnard has been named president for Microsoft Africa.
Lillian Barnard has been named president for Microsoft Africa.

Software firm Microsoft has made some leadership changes to its South African team.

The company announced today that Microsoft South Africa managing director Lillian Barnard has been named president for Microsoft Africa.

Kalane Rampai will succeed Barnard as managing director of Microsoft South Africa.

According to the firm, the new appointments are an important milestone in Microsoft’s ongoing effort to drive impact in Africa at scale.

The company was the first hyperscale cloud provider to launch a data centre region on the continent and continues to invest in a robust technology ecosystem to promote economic growth, it says.

According to an IDC study, Microsoft, its partners and cloud-using customers will together generate around $45.4 billion in new revenues through cloud services by 2026 – creating in the region of over 170 000 direct and indirect jobs, states the firm.

The study also estimated that Microsoft and its partner ecosystem will spend about $3.7 billion in Africa for services and products over the next three years, supporting local business.

Barnard was appointed Microsoft South Africa MD in 2019, replacing Zoaib Hoosen, who had resigned after nearly five years at the helm of the local operation.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Barnard served as chief sales officer at Vodacom and worked for IBM for 15 years, seven of which were at the European headquarters in France and Switzerland, where she held many key positions.

She has also served on the boards of Vodacom South Africa, Mango Airlines and the Dad-fund non-profit organisation.

Kalane Rampai is new MD of Microsoft SA.
Kalane Rampai is new MD of Microsoft SA.

According to Microsoft, Rampai has more than 20 years’ experience in management consulting, with extensive industry experience and a proven track record in helping customers transform their businesses, creating sustainable change and stimulating innovation to create a competitive advantage.

It explains that during the past three decades, Microsoft has invested heavily in skilling and capacity-building to catapult African digital economies into the future.

It adds that more than four million young people across Africa have been upskilled over the last five years through various skilling and employability programmes, with a further commitment from Microsoft to train and certify at least one million women across Africa by June 2025.

In 2019, the company opened its first Africa Development Centres in Kenya and Nigeria to nurture African tech talent by providing a platform for engineers to create solutions for local and global impact.

More recently, Microsoft embarked on a five-year plan in Africa to build digital assets and capabilities in 10 million small and medium enterprises, support 10 000 start-ups with the capacity needed to scale, provide digital skills to 30 million Africans, and create essential infrastructure projects to build a connected continent.

“As African organisations of all sizes, and across every sector, pivot and adapt to changing business and customer needs, they are looking for partners that can accelerate their agility, flexibility and competitiveness, while also cutting costs and driving efficiencies. I am deeply passionate about unlocking the potential for growth using technology to deliver real impact for businesses, communities and economies across the continent,” says Barnard.

Commenting on the appointment of Barnard and Rampai, Samer Abu-Ltaif, Microsoft corporate VP and president, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, says: “Microsoft is fully committed to Africa's digital future, creating opportunities, empowering individuals and businesses, and driving job growth that will benefit the entire region.

“For decades, we have worked tirelessly with governments and organisations across the continent to unlock opportunities for growth and innovation, and the appointments of Lillian and Kalane represent a significant milestone in this journey. Both Lillian's and Kalane’s deep expertise in the ICT industry and proven success in delivering transformative solutions make them the ideal candidates to help us achieve our mission of creating a more connected, innovative and prosperous Africa.

"With Lillian and Kalane at the helm of our regional and local operations, respectively, we are confident Microsoft will continue to play a pivotal role in Africa's economic growth and success."