During the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit that was co-hosted by the US President Barack Obama in Kenya, IBM took the opportunity to launch its new innovation space at the iHub in Nairobi. This will be IBM’s first innovation space in Africa.
For more than a century now, IBM is still one of the biggest multinational technology corporations in the world. It has over four hundred thousand employees worldwide, who are now accessible to African innovators. Soon, more Kenyans may make part of that team too. IBM has opened its space to iHub’s 17000 members who may gain a lot from their IT consulting.
It is not a surprise that IBM chose to set up an innovation space in Kenya. It is very familiar with the country as an innovation centre, having already set up a research centre at Catholic University in Kenya. With very many innovation spaces such as the iHub and FabLab, Kenya is living up to its nickname as the “African Silicon Savannah”. Kenya has had so many innovations over the past decade such as M-PESA, a mobile money transfer service and Ushahidi’s crowdsourcing platform which has transformed the electoral process in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. “Kenya is leading the way. Today, Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa. High speed broadband and mobile communication are on the rise, unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit of even more Kenyans. Every year, around the world, millions of people save money with M-Pesa and it is a great idea that started here in Kenya.” These were Obama’s words during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, echoing what were the thoughts of many, that IBM has made no mistake in their decision of coming to Africa.
The IBM innovation space will open from August 2015. Why so early? Many investors are starting to realize the hidden potential of Sub-Saharan Africa. “With the IBM innovation space at iHub, we are extending our presence right into the heart of the technical community so that entrepreneurs and start-ups have the tools and expertise to succeed in this new exciting era of Africa’s economic development,” said IBM East Africa, Country manager, Nick Nesbitt. He also added that IBM is to invest 600 million dollars into the development of technical skills in 80 universities across many countries. Out of this 80 universities, about 50 are Kenyan universities. “I cannot say at this moment how much money will come to Kenya but just to give, 50 out of the 80 university to be selected are Kenyan and this means a significant portion will come to the country,” Nesbitt added, as declaration of IBM’s belief in Kenya as an investment area.
The innovation space is to yield as good results as the other spaces in New York, Brazil, Boston, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Singapore, Bangalore, New Delhi and Istanbul. It is also to spark new ideas in Kenya and give a new definition to the word “techpreneur”, a word used a lot at the iHub to define themselves. This space is neither the beginning nor the climax of innovation in Kenya but the continuation of Kenya’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Inside IBM Africa
(Header Image Credit: A Smarter Africa Blog)