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IBM to open its 12th Global Research Lab in Kenya

Peter Nalika | Aug. 15, 2012
Kenya continues to be an attractive technology hub for various IT firms. At a lunch briefing with the Kenya ICT board , IBM announced that it will open its first African IBM Research lab in Nairobi. The Nairobi lab becomes the company's 12th global lab joining existing labs in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the United States.

Smarter Cities: with initial focus on water and transportation: Rates of urbanization in Africa are the highest in the world. The single biggest challenge facing African cities is improving access to and quality of city services such as water and transportation. IBM, in collaboration with government, industry and academia, plans to develop Intelligent Operation Centers for African cities -- integrated command centers -- that can encompass social and mobile computing, geo-spatial and visual analytics, and information models to enable smarter ways of managing city services. The initial focus will be on smarter water systems and traffic management solutions for the region.

Human Capacity Development: A skills shortage is hindering the leadership and innovation of new industry in Africa. The IBM Research - Africa lab, while carrying out research, will help to elevate the level of ICT and related scientific skills in Kenya by working in collaboration with select universities, government agencies and companies. Boosting the innovation culture in Kenya and engaging local entrepreneurs and innovators in developing solutions that matter to the people of Kenya and the region may also assist in accelerating economic development.

"We choose Kenya because of the country's ability to execute, taking innovation and using it", says Dr. Robert Morris, Vice President, Services Research, IBM. "Kenya's strategy of the Vision 2030 was a great long term vision accompanied by short term executable plans, that is why the country emerged top in our hunt to set up a lab in Africa"

"IBM continues to expand its operations in key growth markets and we plan to lead the way by bringing Africa into our global network of IBM Research laboratories," said Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research. "We plan to work closely with leading African scientists and engineers from academia, government and industry to address some of their most pressing challenges and greatest opportunities."

Speaking during the meeting Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology says innovation is the main lever for a competitive national economy in today's world, is a source of employment, and has the potential to improve lives "The IBM research lab, will not only rubber stamp Kenya as Africa's leader in ICT, but will help the country to transform into a knowledge based economy."

Dr. Ndemo says the lab establishment process will commence before 1st of September and it will serve all the universities in the country.

IBM is making a significant investment in Africa, the world's fastest growing region, ramping up its profile on the continent as part of its focus on emerging markets. The expansion program is part of a major business plan to increase IBM's presence in growth markets and support global strategy. The company is present in more than 20 African countries and recognizes the huge potential of research and smarter systems in transforming business, government and society across the continent.


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