Microsoft Malta Ltd will be making an annual grant of €55,171 (Lm23,684) to the government in line with the company's commitment to help create a nationwide information society.

The donation consists of software worth €24,137 (Lm10,362) and a cash handout of €31,034 (Lm13,322). It was presented by Pierre Mallia, Microsoft Malta country manager, to the Minister for Investment, Industry and Information Technology, Austin Gatt.

The grant falls in line with the Vertical Strategic Alliance signed by the president of Microsoft International Jean Philippe Coutois and Dr Gatt in 2004. Microsoft Malta provides assistance through grants, software donations, IT curricula and direct involvement of Microsoft employees.

The main focus of such initiatives will be to assist in the IT literacy programme and the development of IT skills within the community at large. The aim is to develop Community Technology Learning Centres as potential hubs for e-Government, delivering specialised courses for workers and to create job opportunities.

"We believe that technology must become affordable and accessible for our Maltese community. We are working in a strategic manner towards eliminating barriers of age, linguistic preference, gender and social provenance in order to overcome the digital divide," Mr Mallia said.

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