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Friday, November 8, 2013
IBM Launches Research Lab in Kenya
The IBM Research-Africa laboratory, on a university campus outside Kenya's capital, is the company's 12th international research center and represents an investment of more than $10 million in the first two years, IBM spokesman Jonathan Batty said. The Kenyan government has also agreed to contribute at least $10 million over the first five years.
The staff includes 20 researchers holding doctorate degrees, most of them young scientists from the African diaspora who have returned to work at the IBM lab.
The facility reflects IBM's interest in a continent where Smartphones are becoming commonplace, even though only a decade ago many Africans had no access to telephones. Kenya itself has become a world leader in payment by mobile phone, stirring hope here that Africa can use technology to leapfrog over more established economies.
IBM representatives said they see the lab not just as an opportunity to drive innovation in Africa, but to use the technological solutions they find there to create products for other markets. It's a major shift from even 10 years ago, when most technology research in Africa was about simplifying products from the West to work on undependable power grids or with slower Internet speeds.