(b.in 1952), is a Malian astrophysicist, a specialist in space exploration and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. In2006 , he was appointed head of Microsoft Africa at Bill Gates's request and with whom he has long been a friend.
Having obtained his baccalaureat in Mali, Cheikh Modibo Diarra went on to study mathemathics, physics and analytical mechanics at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, finally going on to study aerospatial engineering at Howard University in Washington DC in the States.
Cheikh Modibo Diarra was recruted by the Nasa and, as their first African researcher, he has participated in programmes such as Magellan (Venus), Ulysses (Sun's pole), Galileo (Jupiter), Mars Observer and Mars Pathfinder.
In 1999, he created the Pathfinder Fondation for the education and development of Africa by 2002 had developed the laboratory for solar research at Bamako.
He wishes to involve himself more in development initiatives.
"The numeric fracture" between the continent and the rest of the world represents one of his biggest challenges.
For this reason he created the African Science and New Technology Summit (SASNET) which has had several assemblies in Africa (Gabon, Mauritania) and has managed to get support for several projects by African students.
On the 20th of February 2006, he was appointed the head of Micrososft Africa.
The nomination of Cheikh Diarra has helped Microsoft, with projects such as the Pathfinder pilot scheme which is being carried out in Namibia. Nine African countires were selected for this project, the object of which has been to supply new computers in order to set up a network capable of using modern software which they could not have otherwise afforded.
Doctor Diarra is the founder and President of the African Science and New Technology Summit, the Vice President of the World Commission for the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) in the United Nations and a member of the Independant Commission of Africa and the Millenium.
He was also the first President of the Virtual African University and member of the Africa Union for panel of Biotechnology in the partnership for the development of Africa (NEPAD) ; he has also been awarded the African Lifetime Achievement Award.
Cheikh Diarra is based in Johannesburg where he works with Microsoft South Africa and WECA (West , East and Central Africa).