Dr. Cheick Modibo Diarra

President of Microsoft Africa


As the Chairman for Africa at Microsoft Corporation since January 2006, Dr. Diarra is the ambassador of Microsoft to Africa and Africa’s ambassador to Microsoft. He coaches the company’s general managers on devising effective business models to help accelerate the growth and industrialization of Africa and on managing its people. 

Born and raised in Mali, West Africa, Diarra graduated from Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris in 1976, majoring in mathematics, physics and analytical mechanics. In 1982, he completed his Master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Howard University, Washington, D.C. Diarra went on to attain his Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Howard University in 1987. After five years as an assistant professor at Howard, Diarra joined the National Aeronautic and Space Association (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1988 as the first African researcher. As an interplanetary navigator, he worked on five NASA missions. In 1999, Diarra created the Pathfinder Foundation for Education and Development — an organization that encourages and supports female students in their pursuit of scientific education. To date, through Pathfinder and the associated Summer Camps of Excellence in Science, 500 young African female graduates have gone on to study scientific disciplines at some of the world’s foremost universities.

In 2002, Diarra was appointed CEO of the African Virtual University (AVU). Diarra is UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Science, Technology and Enterprise; ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations; the Vice-President of the UN’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology; a member of the High Level African Panel on Biotechnology; and the Founder and President of the African Summit on Science and New Technologies (SASNET). Diarra serves on several boards and is the recipient of many awards and honors.