Video: IBM’s Nairobi Innovation Center
IBM has long held a presence in Africa (for 90+ years!). Offices now exist in over 20 African nations. Within the East Africa region, a full subsidiary office opened in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009. Since then, the company has partnered with East African universities in software development, made plans to turn Nairobi into a Smart City, and attempted to reverse the African brain drain. Most recently, in May 2013, IBM opened a research lab in the city amid much fanfare. In particular, IBM was drawn to Kenya for its great long term vision (Vision 2030) and the ability of Kenya to take innovation and use it. The company’s goal in Nairobi is “to help feed the momentum”.
Africa is a complex place. But we feel it is on the cusp, at an inflection point. It’s going to take off.” – John E. Kelly, I.B.M.’s senior vice president for research
Specifically, the center will house up to 50 researchers within five years. Candidates will come from public and private sectors across Africa. All sorts of ICT projects will be tackled – from water management to traffic management. IBM categorizes the areas as: Next Generation Public Sector, Smarter Cities, and Human Capacity Development. The center will also open opportunities for developers through a tight partnership with iHub Nairobi. Another key component will be the center’s ability to link venture capitalists with local innovators.
Per the video above, IBM:
- will create an innovation city in Nairobi
- will help connect East Africa to the world
- provides state-of-the-art tools for professors and students
- will enable African ideas to become global products
- enhances the ecosystem needed to build a vibrant IT community
IBM also released a video discussing how public-private partnerships (PPPs) are driving East African economic growth. Victor Kyalo, CEO of the Kenya ICT Board, gave insight that can be summarized as:
- Kenya needs need technology to solve problems.
- Kenya needs PPPs to move to the next level.
- In 5 years Kenya will be using IT to enable daily tasks.
For more on how IBM is building innovation ecosystems in Africa, check out the same-titled blog post by IBM Middle East and Africa GM Takreem El-Tohamy.