Microsoft has appointed Lillian Barnard as the new President for Microsoft Africa. Kalane Rampai will succeed Barnard as Managing Director of South Africa.
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 an enterprise-grade data centre region on the continent and continues to invest in a robust technology ecosystem to promote economic growth.
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. The study also estimated that Microsoft and its partner ecosystem will spend $3.7 billion in Africa for services and products over the next three years, supporting local business.
During the past three decades, Microsoft has invested heavily in skilling and capacity-building to catapult African digital economies into the future. More than 4 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 1 million women across Africa by June 2025.
In 2019, the company opened its first Africa Development Centre in Kenya and Nigeria to nurture world-class African tech talent by providing a platform for engineers to create solutions for local and global impact.
More recently, Microsoft has embarked on a five-year plan in Africa to build digital assets and capabilities in 10 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 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 truly connected continent.
Barnard is well placed to head Microsoft’s involvement in the continent’s broadscale transformation and will draw on her more than 25 years of experience in the ICT industry. She has held leadership positions locally and abroad at companies such as IBM and Vodacom before her appointment as Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa in 2019.
“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 & President Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa, said that 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 that Microsoft will continue to play a pivotal role in Africa’s economic growth and success,” Samer said.
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’s an exciting time to step into this role, and I look forward to advancing the competitiveness of customers and businesses of all sizes and across industries in South Africa and the broader continent, enabling them to benefit from our strong partner ecosystem and best practices in ongoing digital transformation,” says Rampai.