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在许多人的心目中,非洲仍然是一个贫穷、落后、充满战乱和疾病的地方,但实际上非洲的经济增长很快。据非洲开发银行的一份新报告,1/3 的非洲国家 GDP 增长率超过 6%。非洲的中产阶级也在快速成长,超过 3.5 亿的非洲人日收入在 2 美元至 20 美元之间。2012 年,非洲贫困线以下的人口比例已经从 2005 的 51% 下降到 39%。

随着经济的增长,非洲地区的投资环境也在得到改善。手机量的快速增长,互联网的不断普及,教育的逐渐改善,所有这些都说明,变化正在发生。或许正因为如此,大型的科技公司也将目光瞄准了非洲。那么,他们向非洲投资的目的究竟是什么呢?是真的看好那里的发展前景,还是有其它目的?近日,BBC 记者采访了三家科技公司:IBM、微软和 Salesforce.com。

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今年,IBM 在内罗毕的一家研究院将会投入运作。在接受采访的时候,IBM 非洲研究院的主管 Kamal Bhattacharya 说,这里 80% 的人无法享受金融服务,而且他们缺乏能源、干净水源、良好的卫生和安全的食品。科学和技术能够让人们表达需求,改变自己的未来。

“这就是 IBM 向非洲投入大量资金的原因。首先从肯尼亚开始。我们从全球招来了一些顶尖的人才,分散在各地的非洲人,出生于非洲的人,以及对非洲成长做出贡献的人,我们将所有这些人聚集到这里。我们认为,针对非洲的研究,以及解决非洲重大问题的努力,都必须在非洲这块土地上进行。这就是我们建立机构,做出投资的原因。”

Kamal Bhattacharya 的同事 Uyi Steward 是研究中心的首席科学家。他出生于内罗毕,但后来去了美国,在纽约生活了 10 年。如今,随着研究中心的建立,他和家人都回来了。他说,研究可以在任何地方进行,但是要把创新变成商业化的产品并且改善人们的生活,必须回到本地的生态圈之中。

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微软则是发起了 4Afika Initiative 计划,重点放在鼓励创新,使人们更容易地获取技术。该计划的负责人 Fernando de Sousa 出生于莫桑比克,在国内战争爆发后,他曾在南非的难民营生活过。

“我们的专注点是年轻人。我们专注于技巧方面。我们专注于小型和中型企业。我们专注于技术的获取”。

在微软的推动下,通过 TV White Space 技术,马赛马拉的边缘村庄连上了互联网。这项计划已经得到政府的肯定,肯尼亚总统去那里考察后表示说,要让那里的 100 万学生用上网络。

Fernado de Sousa 说,微软的目标是促进本地的经济增长。“在证明技术对经济发展的作用时,我们不仅创造了技术消费,更重要的是,创造了知识得以发展的机会,使技术真正能够在非洲建立起来。”

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Salesforce.com 在非洲的投资更倾向于慈善性质。他们在非洲的组织是 Salesfource.com 基金会,其主管 Isabel Kelly 已经加入公司 11 年之久。基金会的第一项计划是向内罗毕贫民窟的一所学校提供帮助。“我们向他们提供了翻新的硬件,支付上网的费用”,Kelly 说。

同时,他们还直接向学生提供资助。有一位家境特别困难的学生,在得到资助后改变了前途,成为肯尼亚真理、正义和和解委员会的律师。

基金会的资金来自大型的 NGO 组织。他们将资金用于培训本地的初创公司,教他们使用 Salesforce 软件。如今,一些本地的企业已经开始使用 Saleforce 的技术进行内部管理。

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iDoNews 长期招聘有志于从事互联网科技媒体行业、并愿意不断提高自己的层次和档次的记者/编辑/运营,我们会花很长时间物色真正具有一流水平的小伙伴加入。有意者投简历至:xiaoo.sem@gmail.com。


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