IBM Expands Africa Push With $60M Investment
"Africa has millions of entrepreneurs who are experts in their own markets and who are now looking to technology to differentiate and compete on the global stage," said Nick Nesbitt, country general manager for IBM East Africa, in a statement. "With the IBM Innovation Space @ iHub, we are extending our presence right into the heart of the local technical community so that entrepreneurs and start-ups have access to the tools and expertise to succeed in this exciting new era of Africa's economic development." The space will provide early-stage entrepreneurs and startups with access to IBM expertise, education and technology tools—especially in the areas of cloud, big data analytics, mobile and security, IBM said. "iHub and IBM are passionate about supporting and empowering the success of African entrepreneurs," said Erik Hersman, co-founder of iHub, in a statement. "By setting up an IBM Innovation Space within the iHub community, we are giving local developers and start-ups unique access to IBM's expertise, business connections and resources which will help propel them to the next level." Located inside the iHub building in downtown Nairobi, the Innovation Space will be open to any of iHub's 17,000 members. IBM will also conduct monthly workshops and events for developers, who will be able to join the IBM Global Entrepreneur program through which they can qualify for free access to IBM Cloud services and get credits for Bluemix, IBM's platform as a service (PaaS), as well as SoftLayer cloud infrastructure."There is a real buzz in Kenya and across Africa right now in the entrepreneurial community as technology and increased access to global markets is propelling us into a new era of African innovation," said Allan Juma, Bitsoko's co-founder and chief developer, in a statement. "As a Kenyan entrepreneur with global ambitions, being able to interact with a company like IBM and discuss ideas, extend our professional network and access cutting-edge technologies is a potentially game-changing opportunity." The IBM Innovation Space @ iHub in Nairobi will open in August and follows in the footsteps of similar spaces in New York; Boston; Uberaba, Brazil; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Tel Aviv, Israel; Istanbul, Turkey; Bangalore and New Delhi, India; and Singapore. Nairobi marks the first IBM Innovation Space in Africa, with others to follow in the coming months—in line with IBM's investment into innovation ecosystems across the continent.
One company set to benefit from the new IBM Innovation Space is Bitsoko, a digital currency startup. Bitsoko, which has been working out of the iHub for the past six months, has used Bluemix to develop a mobile wallet application based on Blockchain technology.