VMware boss talks to Biztechafrica

By John Churu, Gabrone, Botswana

The Innovating Education in Africa conference would never have been complete without the financial handholding of a $10 billion company like VMware. Indeed the African Union and the host Ministry of Tertiary Education were the frontrunners in bringing this august collaboration of minds in the African education sphere, but VMware went a step further. And as the Senior Director, Global Programs Worldwide Readiness, Assessment and Enablement, Thomas MacKay would explain, “VMware has always been very close to higher education.” The VMware boss was speaking in a wide ranging interview with biztechafrica on the side-lines of the annual conference in Gaborone Botswana. 

“The Innovating Education in Africa Expo is a flagship event of the African Union Commission intended to showcase practical social and technological innovations aimed at enhancing access, quality, relevance and inclusion in education in order to release the potential for empowerment, employability and inventiveness,” says the organisers.

Firstly, MacKay explained his gratitude to the organisers who went all out of their way to assemble a world class event in Gaborone. “This visit is an extension of the IT Academy and we see what Africa is becoming and what it will become,” said MacKay. VMware works with many campaigns, according to the information MacKay gave to biztechafrica. “One of the things that make us stand out is because we have many partnerships, and also the technologies that we have has to work together and collaborate. We created the concept the concept of software defined data centre and there are many things you can do with that.”

If you look at the business and a lot of our growth goes to our CEO. “Kenya for example is doing a lot of partnerships with other organisations, but it is also the culture and value of VMware to give back.” He said that he sees great respect and desire from various countries. He lamented the perennial issue of students dropping out of schools throughout the globe. “The other thing I learnt is that it’s quite a big span of students that are dropping out of school.”

He said as VMware they need to talk to as many universities as they can manage. “I think the biggest thing is to take the story of Africa to as many forums as possible. Our CEO has been supporting schools in Kenya for the past 30 years. It is meetings like these that start the dialogue; for example, why are the 94% dropping out. The challenge is: where do we go from here.”

During the conference, VMware was impressed by the level of dedication that was exhibited there. “I have just been struck this week with the depth of dedication of the ministry, innovators and everybody that I talked to.” 

Next year the Innovating in Education in Africa conference will be held in Kigali, Rwanda which expressed interest to host the same next year 2020. Last year the event was held in Ouagadougou, Senegal.      

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