Continuing with its expansion into Africa, IBM announced the opening of a new IBM Innovation Center in Nairobi, Kenya.
The new facility, the first IBM Innovation Center in East Africa, will help fuel growth and innovation in the region, providing IT partners, developers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and academics with access to the latest enterprise software and hardware, training, and business and marketing support, IBM said. The center is co-located with a new IBM Client Center that brings the company's expertise to clients in the region.
The goal of the new IBM Innovation Center is to nurture and grow regional IT innovation and help bring startups and new business IT solutions to market faster. The center is focused on solutions that use analytics, mobile and cloud technologies to solve key local and global challenges such as traffic congestion and better energy management. Center attendees will be able to participate in virtual and in-person training, test out their new products, network with peers from around the world, and receive mentoring and guidance from IT and business experts.
"Technology is playing a critical role in building stronger Kenyan and East African economies," Mugo Kibati, CEO of Kenya Vision 2030, said in a statement. "IBM is an essential partner in helping us create a vibrant network of highly skilled individuals and businesses, who are driving innovation for Africa and the world."
Kenya has become something of a hotbed of technology for IBM in Africa. The company opened an IBM Research lab in Nairobi in August 2012. As IBM's first Research Lab in Africa, the Nairobi lab is driving a program of Pan-African research designed to help solve some of the continent's biggest challenges such as urbanization, next-generation public-sector and human-capacity development. Meanwhile, in February, IBM named MoDe, a Nairobi-based startup focusing on delivering credit to customers in emerging countries via prepaid mobile, IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year at the IBM SmartCamp finals in New York.
The information and communications technology (ICT) sector has driven up to 40 percent of the economic growth in East Africa in the past 10 years, according to World Bank's InfoDev. In Kenya, the IT industry is expected to grow by 11 percent annually, creating a need for skilled professionals capable of driving IT innovation and entrepreneurship. As a hub for ICT skill development and innovation, the center will serve as a launch pad for the ideas and solutions that will shape the IT landscape in the future, and play a key role in progress toward the East African community's joint development goals.
"The new IBM Innovation Center is an important milestone in our expansion and work in East Africa," Tony Mwai, country general manager for IBM East Africa, said in a statement. "The advanced IT and business recourses at the center will strengthen our climate of innovation and get new East African solutions into the global marketplace."