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Russian Software, MyOffice Takes On Microsoft 365 with Added Data Security Benefit for African Countries

A company in Russia has developed a productivity software called MyOffice, which will help African governments keep their data within the borders.

MyOffice is a productivity software designed in a way that competes with Microsoft’ Office 365. The small Russian company is targeting 26 African countries and has already struck deals with governments in Cameroon, Burundi and Congo.

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MyOffice is considered much cheaper than Microsoft Office 365, but also offers the additional advantage of storing data right in the confines of the continent.

Cameroon got 500 free MyOffice licences and is running a pilot project involving school children as it mulls over adapting the software for government offices.

According to Cameroon’s Minister for basic education, Laurent Etoundi, the government chose MyOffice because it does not require data to be sent to corporate servers abroad.

“This way we can be confident that state secrets will be safe from hackers or any third parties,” he says.

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According to a GSMA report, millions of Africans are still not connected to the internet, and those who are, connect for the first time using a smart phone. The report said that smartphone connections in Sub-Saharan African are expected to double to 678 million by 2025.

Bigger African economies including South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt, have been recognized by big tech giants, leaving smaller nations underserved. The gap has in turn created opportunities for smaller international companies.

MyOffice founder and Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Komissarov says African sales could account for as much as 15% of MyOffice’s total revenue. “We were much impressed by projected growth in Africa.”

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MyOffice is still a small company with its revenue projected to hit $26 million this year. The company is however backed by Kaspersky, which had about $700 million worth of sales last year. Vladmir Putin’s government has also helped to push the company makes its inroads to Africa.

Russia has faced deteriorating oil revenue over the years, forcing the government to look for alternative forms of trade and include the African market. The government demonstrated its support by sending an official from the Russians Communications’ ministry to witness the signing of the deal between MyOffice and Congo.

The Covid-19 pandemic is also said to have delayed some of MyOffice’s contracts including in Uganda and Morocco.

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Komisarov says the security benefits of the software have been at the fore from the beginning.

Everyone is concerned with data privacy,” he says. “So this whole idea—that data needs to be controlled and kept in your own cloud—has been playing really well.”

Google is yet to establish a cloud data centre in Africa, while Microsoft only recently built its first centres in South Africa. Although Google declined to comment on the  issue, Microsoft maintains that a cloud computing system is better at defending against security threats.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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