IBM research lab to spur innovation in Kenya

COMPUTING

|
Image: IBM business consultant Shadrack Kioko captures data on road conditions and traffic congestion in Nairobi. By IBM
IBM business consultant Shadrack Kioko captures data on road conditions and traffic congestion in Nairobi

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

The Kenyan Government on Monday opened the first IBM research lab in Africa.

It is projected that the lab will not only drive innovation but help market Kenya as a leading modern services economy.

The research agenda will be defined by IBM and Kenya government and will have a strong emphasis on solving home-based and African problems.

The research facility is expected to be operational this September and will have its base in Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi.

Africa will host the 12th laboratory in the world-wide IBM network of labs, joining existing labs in Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, India, Ireland, Israel, Switzerland and the United States, as IBM continues to expand its research operations in key growth markets.

The lab, a collaboration between Kenya and IBM East Africa, will see the partners each contribute USD10 million dollars (Ksh830 million), over a period of five years.

Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications through the Kenya ICT board will implement the project, which will see Kenyans also gain in knowledge diffusion.

Speaking on the partnership, PS, Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo said: "In today’s world, innovation is the main lever for a competitive national economy, 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 was speaking at a press briefing held at Kenya ICT Board offices, attended by Paul Kukubo, CEO, Kenya ICT Board, Robert Morris, Vice President, Services Research IBM, Michael Browne, IBM Research, Director of Technical Strategy, Kumar Bhaskaran and Program Director Technology & Strategy at IBM Research, Shanghai, China.

Others were Mugo Kibati, Director General Vision 2030, Josphat Karanja, Head of Infrastructure, Kenya Education Network (KENET), Takreem El-Tohamy, IBM General Manager, Middle East and Africa and Tony Mwai, Country General Manager for IBM East Africa.

Earlier Monday, President Mwai Kibaki and IBM Global Chief Executive Officer, Ginni Rometty signed a memorandum of understanding to officially flag-off the setting up of the lab.  

“Kenya vision is to become the top ICT hub in the continent.  IBM’s commitment to undertake the proposed research agenda will contribute greatly to our national priorities as part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 agenda,” said President Kibaki. “We look forward to delivering world-class research and innovation through the partnership and playing an important role as an IT leader on the African continent.”

President Kibaki said the project will greatly benefit the momentum already established in cutting-edge mobile money technology, contribute to the creation of high-value jobs, and bring significant prestige for Kenya.

“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 will work closely with leading African scientists and engineers from academia, government and industry to address some of their most pressing challenges and greatest opportunities.”

The research lab is timely coming on the heels of Konza Techno City Conference in which the country rallied to attract investors into the silicon park that will drive Kenya towards achieving middle-income status.

Under the partnership, Kenya will provide the necessary environment, the physical space, facilitate the lab setting up, while IBM will provide senior specialists, intellectual property and will operate the Lab as part of its world-class network of global research labs. Both partners are also expected to oversee governance structures at the facility jointly.

“The Kenya ICT Board has various projects that will compliment the work of the IBM lab. These are in software certification, open data, enterprise incubation and support for public sector digitisation,” said Paul Kukubo, the CEO of Kenya ICT Board. “We see IBM as a great partner in advancing the agenda the board’s transformation of Kenya,” he added. 



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE COMPUTING NEWS

ITU to build united front against technology fakers

ITU will host high-level talks in a bid to improve global coordination in the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) as part of strategies to combat counterfeit and substandard ICT devices.    Read More

More Congo-Brazzaville women linking up with ICTs

More women are moving to learn to use ICTs in DRC, say ‘backyard’ teachers. Read More

Has the operating system become a modern day utility?

As we make the shift to the cloud era, computing’s traditional building blocks, including the operating system, are increasingly abstracted away, says Red Hat.  Read More

Congo Brazzaville’s BantuHub offers ICT relief to locals

The BantuHub ICT centre in Brazzaville is a real cure for techentrepreneurs, bloggers, start-ups and other technology-minded people seeking a quick and an effective relief for their ICT headaches. Read More

Innovative products and professional services give Schneider Electric and end users the edge

Recognising enterprises' need for a specialist partner, Schneider Electric has developed its professional services based on using technology to improve end users’ efficiencies and communications, while making current and new markets accessible to them in faster, more competitive ways.  Read More

Brocade appoints new Senior Director of Technology, EMEA

Industry veteran Brian Levy will lead regional growth and operational excellence, further strengthening the Brocade leadership team. Read More

Electricity in Africa: is payment the problem?

While prepaid meters go halfway to solving the problem, making payment points widely available for people to purchase prepaid electricity vouchers is just as important, says Nomanini. Read More

Overcoming the challenges of location independent computing

Achieving true location-independent computing requires an application performance platform that maintains visibility no matter where or when the applications are located or accessed, says Riverbed.  Read More

Vodacom: cloud computing is IT industry game changer

Nkosi Kumalo (centre) and Vodacom officials Vodacom Business Nigeria says cloud computing will address all issues relating to reduction in cost of operating business in the country, but it lamented that businesses in the country are still lagging behind, with only a third of them currently using cloud technology. Read More

Gartner: dramatic change for data centre market

Four disruptive factors will force dramatic changes in the data centre (DC) market by year-end 2016, according to Gartner.  Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoice

FEATURED STORY

MFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmersMFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmers

Ugandan smallholder farmers are benefitting from an ambitious innovative ICT mobile phone initiative that offers weather reports and up-to-date market information about changes in prices for agricultural commodities, thus granting them lucrative returns from their farming ventures. 

IN DEPTH

iProcure delivers inputs to farmers’ doorsteps using ICTsiProcure delivers inputs to farmers’ doorsteps using ICTs

An innovation dubbed iProcure is already being used by several agro input firms which are now relying on it to distribute their products to farmers. 

COMPANY NEWS

VMware announces VMware Workstation 11 and VMware Player 7 Pro

VMware Workstation 11 marks 15 years of innovation with Windows 10 Tech Preview readiness, state of the art performance and cloud connectivity.