Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has promised a "long-term approach" to investment in Africa based on public/private partnerships that will help bring IT training to more than 45 million people across the continent.
Gates was speaking at the Government Leaders Forum Africa 2006 alongside former US president Bill Clinton.
Gates said that the collaboration would bring together Microsoft and local and global organisations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the New Partnership for Africa's Development.
"For Africa to truly become competitive in the global economy, strategic collaboration between businesses, governments and non-governmental organisations is essential," said Gates.
Clinton added: "Technology has expanded the opportunities of millions of people around the world and, whether expanding access to information, education or healthcare, or increasing the collective power of individuals, it has an important role to play in creating a thriving and competitive Africa.
"The efforts I've seen from Bill Gates and companies like Microsoft, in partnership with governments, NGOs and other private sector organisations, are helping Africa in its push to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals."
The eight United Nations MDGs form a blueprint agreed to by UN countries and leading global development institutions. The goals range from halving extreme poverty, to halting the spread of HIV/Aids and providing universal primary education by 2015.
"This agreement is a huge leap forward for tourism-driven job creation, export income and capacity building for the world's poorest countries, especially in Africa where it will be integrated into our programmes to alleviate poverty through sustainable tourism," said Francesco Frangialli, secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organization.
"It links Microsoft's technology and solutions with our central role of advancing the sector as an instrument of development."
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