• Home
  • /
  • Software
  • /
  • Microsoft sets stage for Africa’s gaming, AI talent

Microsoft sets stage for Africa’s gaming, AI talent

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 30 May 2024
Lillian Barnard, president of Microsoft Africa.
Lillian Barnard, president of Microsoft Africa.

Software giant Microsoft today announced the return of its Xbox Game Camp in Africa, opening applications for the upcoming conference.

Xbox Game Camp started in 2014 in Sweden and was shaped into a global programme in 2020. The Africa edition was introduced last year, targeting game creators across more than 50 countries and regions.

In a statement, Microsoft – through its Africa Transformation Office (ATO) – says the initiative aims to bolster local developer talent and fast-track the growth of the continent’s gaming industry.

The two-day online conference, scheduled for 16 and 17 July, will include in-person events in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Casablanca, according to the statement.

“We’re excited to bring Game Camp to Africa for a second year running and look forward to strengthening its impact within the gaming community through practical new additions to the programme,” says Kalane Rampai, MD of Microsoft SA.

“Africa has a long track-record of giving rise to top developer talent, and we believe that affinity for producing tech talent can be harnessed to usher in a new era of exponential growth within the African gaming industry.”

The African continent is expected to become one of the fastest-growing gaming markets in the world, with the gaming industry in Sub-Saharan Africa projected to reach $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2024.

Game Camp Africa will feature workshops on various game development topics, providing young talent with the opportunity to learn from industry leaders. Participants will also have the opportunity to present gaming and business ideas to a panel of experts, who will then provide them with mentorship and coaching.

Developers will be able to take part remotely via Microsoft Teams, as well as through three open-house locations across Africa, including Johannesburg, Nairobi and Casablanca. The online resources include targeted training modules that closely match developers’ individual skills and interests.

“There is extraordinary talent residing across the continent. However, many individuals lack access to the basic tools and resources needed to transform their expertise into successful ventures,” comments Lillian Barnard, president of Microsoft Africa.

“To realise the vast potential presented by gaming, we must begin by narrowing the opportunity divide and level the playing field. We believe that by investing in initiatives such as Xbox Game Camp, we can help grow thriving gaming ecosystems by tapping into the amazing talent that has the potential to contribute positively to the broader economy.”

To participate, individuals must reside in any country on the African continent and be studying or working part- or full-time in the field of software development, visual arts, 3D, music and audio, web design, narrative design, or professional project management.

For further information on how to apply, click here. Applications close on 15 June.

An AI start

Meanwhile, Microsoft also introduced its inaugural artificial intelligence (AI)-focused event, targeting start-up founders and pioneers from across Africa.

Scheduled to take place on 6 June, the hybrid African Start-ups AI Fest is spearheaded by the organisation’s ATO.

The event aims to inspire and support start-ups to accelerate their journey to market their ideas, not only locally, but on a global stage. It will take place in Johannesburg, with virtual access available to attendees across the continent.

“There is a need to provide start-ups on the continent with the resources to take their concepts from the drawing board to customers,” says Barnard. “From AI-enabled tech solutions to advanced digital skills, start-ups need to be given every opportunity to thrive in a highly-competitive global market because they are the catalysts for job creation and economic growth in Africa.

“In the face of a challenging economic climate, start-ups across Africa have demonstrated remarkable resilience. Despite the tough conditions, they have ignited a wave of innovation. Empowered with the right tech tools, start-ups can scale their solutions, enhance productivity, and drive growth.”

According to Microsoft, it aims to reach 6 000 to 10 000 of these businesses and provide them with customised support through the Microsoft for Start-ups Founders Hub programmes.