20,000 South Africans got Office 365 for free — This is who qualifies

Microsoft has provided almost 20,000 South Africans with free licences for the Office 365 suite and OneDrive cloud storage since the launch of its Mahala programme, the company has told MyBroadband.

The Mahala.ms portal is a partnership between Microsoft South Africa, Penquin, Lava Lamp Lab, and NBConsult.

First launched in 2017, it offers a free Microsoft 365 licence in addition to 5GB of OneDrive storage to all South African students between the ages of 8 and 24. The entire package is worth R1,800.

Those who sign up through the Mahala.ms portal can activate free Microsoft licenses for all their devices, including their mobile phone, tablet, PC, and Mac.

The suite includes popular productivity apps like Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, and Excel.

The initiative aims to enable learners from grades R to 12 to become more productive and be better prepared for the next phase of their academic careers or the workplace.

Microsoft told MyBroadband that skills developed while using mobile phones were not the same as those required to use desktops and productivity tools in a more formal corporate environment.

“Providing access to programs such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel, which are common in the modern workplace, ensures that young people are equipped with basic digital literacy skills that are essential to get them employed or self-employed,” Microsoft said. 

The company told MyBroadband it had seen big uptake on the programme since November 2020 in particular, with an average of 10 sign-ups per day.

How to sign up

If you are a South African student aged between 8 and 24, you can sign up for the Mahala offer by following these steps:

  1. Visit https://mahala.ms/signup/ on your computer or mobile device.
  2. Fill out your details in all the fields.
  3. Choose a secure password.
  4. Read the Terms and Conditions, tick the box indicating you have and acknowledge that someone older than 18 has completed or assisted in registration.
  5. For security reasons, tick the “I’m not a robot” reCAPTCHA.
  6. Select “Sign Me Up”.
  7. You will then receive a welcome email with your Mahala.ms username and password, which you can use to get Microsoft 365 and OneDrive for free.

The welcome email will contain links to the Microsoft Office 365 mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Windows and Mac users can log into http://portal.office.com and click “Install Office” to get the desktop versions of the Office and OneDrive apps.

Now read: Windows 11 Preview now available — How to download it

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20,000 South Africans got Office 365 for free — This is who qualifies