IBM opens first global research lab in Africa; smarter cities with focus on water and transportation
IBM is opening its 12th global research lab, and its first in Africa. IBM Research - Africa will have its first location in Nairobi, Kenya in collaboration between the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) through the Kenya ICT Board. Key research areas that will be explored by IBM Research - Africa include:
Smarter Cities – with initial focus on water and transportation: Rates of urbanization in Africa are the highest in the world. The single biggest challenge facing African cities is improving access to and quality of city services such as water and transportation, according to IBM. IBM, in collaboration with government, industry and academia, plans to develop Intelligent Operation Centers for African cities that can encompass social and mobile computing, geo-spatial and visual analytics, and information models to enable smarter ways of managing city services. The initial focus will be on smarter water systems and traffic management solutions for the region.
Next Generation Public Sector: Governments have a mission critical role to play in the growth and sustainable developments in Africa. With the right kind of ICT, including big data solutions, advanced analytics, and cloud technologies, government organizations can draw insights and benefit from the vast amounts of data held by any number of government agencies. This can help advance e-government capabilities such as helping to reduce the cost of social services, improving efficiency and productivity, deterring fraud and abuse, improving citizen access to services, and enabling digital interaction between citizens and the public sector.
Human Capacity Development: A skills shortage is hindering the leadership and innovation of new industry in Africa. The IBM Research - Africa lab, while carrying out research, will help to elevate the level of ICT and related scientific skills in Kenya by working in collaboration with select universities, government agencies and companies. Boosting the innovation culture in Kenya and engaging local entrepreneurs and innovators in developing solutions that matter to the people of Kenya and the region may also assist in accelerating economic development.
Operations at IBM Research - Africa will commence immediately. Expansion into other parts of Africa may be considered in a second phase.
The new lab will establish a Resident Scientist Program, an international recruitment program to reach Kenyan and other African applicants. The program will aim to attract top R&D talent to work side-by-side with IBM researchers in the lab.
The Resident Scientist candidates will be pre- and post-doctoral researchers including scientists and researchers from academia, government and industry. The Resident Scientists will begin with a one-year tenure with options for this to be extended.
Resident Scientists will be integrated into the IBM Research - Africa lab as well as IBM’s global network of labs. Each Resident Scientist can collaborate with IBM researchers throughout IBM’s global network of laboratories as they carry out their research.
IBM is making a significant investment in Africa, the world’s fastest growing region, 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.