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Growth Accelerates in Africa

IBM is opening innovation centers and working with businesses and industries to bring technology and resources to a region in need

5/28/2014 12:20:55 AM | IBM sees potential in the African market, and is investing time and resources in the continent. Africa is set to be the world’s second-fastest growing region, according to the International Monetary Fund, with projected growth of more than 5 percent this year. IBM, already present in more than 20 African countries, is increasing its investment through the creation of new facilities, offices, training, staffing and recruitment, sales and marketing, and corporate citizenship.

On May 15, IBM announced two new Mainframe Cloud Innovation Centers in Africa. The labs, located in Nairobi, Kenya, and Johannesburg, South Africa, are part of IBM’s commitment to bringing technology solutions to Africa, which has been recognized as a key growth market.

The labs seek to provide clients, business partners and academic institutions with access to extended System z big data and analytics, mobile and cloud computing technologies. The new centers join a network of more than 40 other Cloud Innovation Centers worldwide.

“Cloud computing offers African countries the unprecedented opportunity to fast track their increasing participation in global markets in spite of the comparative lack of the traditional infrastructure used to facilitate trade around the world,” Pat Toole, general manager, IBM System z, said in a news release. “Powered by our System z technology, these hubs will deliver optimal economics per workload to our clients and Business Partners who will also be able to access global best practice through our international network of centers.”

And in February, the company announced two new Innovation Centers in Lagos, Nigeria, and Casablanca, Morocco, aimed to spur local growth and fuel an ecosystem of development and entrepreneurship around big data and analytics and cloud computing in the region. The centers will provide clients with solutions to solve key local and global challenges.

IBM Research-Africa opened in Nairobi in November, forging partnerships with businesses, research organizations and universities across the nation and around the world.

Its agenda includes the development of cognitive computing technologies that integrate learning and reasoning capabilities so local experts can make better decisions in areas such as healthcare delivery and financial services. Read more about the facility in this IBM Systems Magazine article.

Strengthening Partnerships With the Mainframe


IBM is also working with industries across Africa to set up a strong mainframe ecosystem.

In South Africa, First National Bank is the top mobile banking brand, with the largest number of users and the highest mobile transaction volume, according to an IBM case study. This growth has been realized through the security and scalability of the mainframe. The mainframe is at the heart of the bank’s drive to deploy mobile “bank-in-a-box” solutions that deliver financial services over any channel in near-real time and a new confidence in the institution.

Africa’s largest IT service provider, Business Connexion, is now bringing the mainframe to others throughout the continent via a cloud, enabling local providers to deliver enterprise offerings. Many places in Africa lack the infrastructure to support the data centers required for enterprise cloud computing. To solve this, Business Connexion partners with telcos and other enterprises in those growth areas and enable local providers to deliver enterprise offerings. Find out more in the IBM case study

IBM announced in May a collaboration with the Zambian Ministry of Health to provide citizens with improved access to 200 life-saving drugs. Annually, the Zambian public-health sector counts 100,000 deaths attributed to preventable and treatable diseases. Supported by the World Bank, the Department for International Development, UNICEF and London Business School, Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited will deploy a new medical supply chain pilot project that will use analytics and mobile technologies to make medicine available when and where it is needed.

And in March, the Government of Ghana announced a partnership with IBM and Yale to eradicate mother-to-child HIV. Healthcare workers in Ghana will use mobile devices to collect data that will then be uploaded and analyzed on an IBM mainframe to help provide key insights for proactive treatment and prevention programs.

Read a Point of View essay about IBM’s commitment to Africa here

Valerie Dennis is site editor of Destinationz.org.






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