Microsoft Corporation

10/11/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/11/2021 07:20

Room to dream: How The Microsoft Garage is hacking creative culture on a global scale

The Garage Nigeria, in Lagos, is in advanced planning stages, as are other Garage locations in Africa. Lagos, the second-largest city in Africa, is a natural fit for The Garage as a thriving metropolis where informal and formal tech industries overlap with a huge population under the age of 30.

"The Garage will be essential to both tantalize and satisfy employees' creative curiosities," said Gafar Lawal, principal group manager at Microsoft Nigeria. "It will support them as they continue to learn at every stage of their careers."

Lawal grew up in Nigeria but spent much of his career working as a chief technology officer for major Wall Street firms and as an architect for Microsoft Windows Server. When the Microsoft Africa Development Centre (ADC) opened in 2019, he saw the chance to return to his home country and help elevate the company's engineering presence in Nigeria. He jumped at the opportunity, envisioning a roadmap for upscaling the tech ecosystem throughout Western Africa and, eventually, the African continent.

"We want to be a pioneering influence and a hub of innovation," Lawal said of Microsoft in Africa. "And The Garage will be the single most necessary part of showing everyone who we are and what our culture is about."

Africa's median age is between 17 and 19, and the continent will have more working-age people than the rest of the developing world combined by 2035. Nigeria already has Africa's biggest economy, but Lawal thinks there is still infinite room to grow and evolve.

"Due to the lack of formality in much of the current African tech industry, people are forced to innovate on their own," explained Lawal. "Students are starting school having already run multiple entrepreneurial ventures."

At The Garage Nigeria, tech talent will have the chance to collaborate with advisers and get access to robust hardware and software tools, marrying the inventive spirit of the informal tech industry with more formal resources. Lawal noted that Africa has its own, independent trajectory of tech development and adopted such things as mobile payments and mobile banking well before the U.S. And the continent will continue to be an early adopter of other innovations as well.

"In Lagos, we see a tremendous opportunity for Microsoft to learn as a company and as a culture," said Ramos, The Garage's general manager. "We are going to learn how to do business better worldwide by learning in Africa."