Microsoft has announced the elevation of Microsoft Nigeria to a stand-alone subsidiary in recognition of the maturity of the market and the immense opportunities the Country offers.

According to a statement, these opportunities include fast economic growth, the largest GDP in Africa, a new generation of entrepreneurs and a business-friendly government that is rapidly expanding ICT infrastructure development.

Commenting on the decision, Kabelo Makwane, Managing Director for Microsoft Nigeria said, "Nigeria is one of the company's most important markets in Africa, hence the elevation of Microsoft Nigeria to a single-country subsidiary was inevitable.  The Company is set to double its efforts in skills development, innovation support and access provision for people across Africa and Nigeria in particular, growing the business and thus to creating more economic opportunities."

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) the Nigerian economy grew by 89 percent to N80.3 trillion ($509.9bn) in 2014, making it the world's 26th largest economy. These stats highlight that Nigeria is a land of opportunity for business of all sizes, especially SMEs that form 90 percent of the businesses in the country.

The company plans to drive down cost of data for SMEs that often don't have the capital for IT infrastructure investment and rapidly expand its cloud offerings. This is in line with Microsoft's rapid transition to a devices and services company to deliver seamless, cloud-based experiences across hardware, software and services.

"The renewed emphasis by the Nigerian government on the ICT sector holds considerable promise for what technology can bring to consumers and businesses. It is the perfect opportunity for the company to use the technology, talent, time and money to help create sustainable growth in the country and across Africa," said Makwane.

Microsoft has been operating in Africa for 22 years and in Nigeria for 14 and has a current local partner ecosystem of 1,750 members across the country. In addition, through its partner ecosystem in Nigeria, Microsoft has created 45 000 jobs, supported 300 start-ups, reached three million students through the Partners in Learning programme and seen 65 000 downloads of free Dream Spark developer tools.

"In the 22 years that Microsoft has been operating in Africa, the company has been helping to improve people's lives by enabling them to realise their potential through technology. ICT holds great transformational opportunity for Nigeria. Innovation will help the country leap from the industrial revolution into the information era," concluded Makwane.