After nearly six years at the helm of the company, Microsoft South Africa MD Mteto Nyati is handing over the reigns to Zoaib Hoosen who has occupied the chief operating officer role for the last year. The position of COO was specifically created by Nyati last year in preparation for the changeover which has been in the works for 12 months and will now fall away.

“Since his appointment to the post a year ago, Hoosen has been managing a large portion of the Microsoft SA business.” Nyati explained at a press conference today, “He is a natural fit as managing director for the business going forward”.

Since taking over the helm at Microsoft in 2008, Nyati has guided the company from a tumultuous period in which its market share was declining despite the market as a whole expanding to having three consecutive years of double digit growth as he leaves the position.

Nyati – who will be moving to a new position within the company to develop and implement growth strategies for the emerging markets within the Middle East and Africa region – shared the fact that South Africa is a surprisingly massive market for Microsoft representing over 25% of the total Middle East and Africa business for the company.

New MD Hoosen has focused his job on three areas which he views as the key challenges that Microsoft will need to tackle in the future:

Skills development

In particular Microsoft will be aiming to bridge a skills gap that it says exists in the new cloud computing area that is now at the forefront of the company’s global strategy. The focus will more than likely have extra emphasis placed on it with the new CEO of the company, Satya Nadella, having come from Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group before taking over.

Affordable access

Having a massive cloud computing presence would be rather meaningless without the ability for South Africa’s population being able to use it which is why Microsoft is investing heavily in providing internet access to the masses. We have already seen some of this strategy put in place with the TV white spaces trial that Microsoft is running in Limpopo.

Affordable devices

Since Mobile World Congress, Microsoft has been on a drive to lower the average price of smartphones and tablets running its software. At the conference they launched the ‘Windows reference design’ program which the company hopes will bring new manufacturers into the fold to increase its share of a market dominated by Android and iOS. “This final pillar centres on affordable devices and relevant services that we are working hard to bring to South Africa” Hoosen said, “I hope to be talking to you within the next couple of months about landing the first $100 Windows phones and sub $200 Windows tablets in South Africa”.

We’re almost sad to report that someone beat us to making the point that there already plenty of sub-%100 phones and sub-$200 tablets available, of course.