ICANN Pledges Major Expansion in Africa as IT Grows on Continent
IBM has been ramping up its profile on the continent as part of its focus on emerging markets. The expansion program is part of a major business plan to increase IBM's presence in growth markets and support global strategy. The company sees the potential of research and smarter systems in transforming business, government and society across the continent. Last month, IBM announced that MoDe was named the IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, MoDe provides instant nano-credit for prepaid mobile phone users across the African continent. Nearly 80 percent of mobile phone users in growth markets do not have access to traditional banking loans and credit. MoDe's innovative payment services ensure that people have access to mobile airtime when needed, while helping telecommunications companies increase efficiency and build brand loyalty. "Being named the IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year is a tremendous honor and will accelerate our ability to create new markets," said Julian Kyula, CEO and co-founder of MoDe. "The access to clients and potential investors that we have had through the SmartCamp program would have taken our company 10 years to achieve on our own, with IBM it took less than six months.”"Every day we are working with startups around the world to grow markets in big data, cloud and mobile computing," said Jim Corgel, general manager of IBM's Entrepreneur Programs. "We are thrilled to expand our relationship with MoDe as we bring new mobile solutions to our clients around the world." In 2011, IBM announced a long-term agreement working with mobile-phone company Bharti Airtel in Africa. Bharti Airtel and IBM jointly announced a 10-year agreement to provide comprehensive IT services to Airtel's employees across 16 African countries. In terms of the agreement, IBM is providing a standard operating environment, "help desk" and "desk side" support to enhance employee efficiency and convenience. The announcement builds on a strategic partnership the companies signed in late 2010 to manage the computing technology and services to power Airtel’s mobile communications network spanning 16 African countries. At the time of the signing of the agreement in July 2011, IBM said it would provide comprehensive end user services to Airtel employees across Africa, in French and English. The consolidation of Airtel's help desks is expected to bring greater cost savings and efficiencies by streamlining the processes of addressing IT operational issues. It will also include an enhanced information enterprise security that further strengthens Airtel’s commitment to customer data privacy. IBM also is responsible for the implementation and maintenance of a standard operating environment, using state-of-the-art platforms, tools and management processes. Manoj Kohli, CEO of Bharti Airtel, in a statement, said, "This agreement enables us to provide the best IT capabilities to our employees with a focus of making innovative mobile solutions available across Africa. IBM will introduce best practices based on their global experience in various sectors. This will help us to focus on delivering innovative products and services, and providing a better customer experience."
IBM SmartCamps connect startups with seasoned and successful venture capitalists, investors and innovative business leaders, giving them the tools and insight needed to excel in their often nascent markets. Past participants have partnered with IBM to deliver new services to clients and have expanded into new markets. In addition, past participants have gone on to generate more than $90 million in investments from the venture community.