Earlier today, President Mwai Kibaki and IBM Global Chief Executive Officer, Ginni Rometty signed a memorandum of understanding to officially flag-off the setting up of the lab.
"Kenya vision is to become the top ICT hub in the continent. IBM’s commitment to undertake the proposed research agenda will contribute greatly to our national priorities as part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 agenda,” said His Excellency Honorable Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya. “We look forward to delivering world-class research and innovation through the partnership and playing an important role as an IT leader on the African continent."
It is projected that the lab will not only drive innovation but help market Kenya as a leading modern services economy. The research agendas will be defined by both parties and will have a strong emphasis on solving home-based and African problems.
The project will greatly benefit the momentum already established in cutting-edge mobile money technology, contribute to the creation of high-value jobs, and bring significant prestige for Kenya.
"IBM continues to expand its operations in key growth markets and we plan to lead the way by bringing Africa into our global network of IBM Research laboratories,” said Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “We will work closely with leading African scientists and engineers from academia, government and industry to address some of their most pressing challenges and greatest opportunities."
The Ministry of Information and Communications through the Kenya ICT board will implement the project, which will see Kenyans also gain in knowledge diffusion.
Speaking on the partnership, PS, Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo said: "In today’s world, innovation is the main lever for a competitive national economy, is a source of employment, and has the potential to improve lives. The IBM research lab, will not only rubber stamp Kenya as Africa’s leader in ICT, but will help the country to transform into a knowledge based economy."
He was speaking at a press briefing held at Kenya ICT Board offices, and attended by Paul Kukubo, CEO, Kenya ICT Board, Robert Morris, Vice President, Services Research IBM, Michael Browne, IBM Research, Director of Technical Strategy, Kumar Bhaskaran and Program Director Technology & Strategy at IBM Research, Shanghai, China. Others were Mugo Kibati, Director General Vision 2030, Josphat Karanja, Head of Infrastructure, Kenya Education Network (KENET), Takreem El-Tohamy, IBM General Manager, Middle East and Africa and Tony Mwai, Country General Manager for IBM East Africa.
The research lab is timely coming on the heels of Konza Techno City Conference in which the country rallied to attract investors into the silicon park that will drive Kenya towards achieving middle-income status.
"The Kenya ICT Board has various projects that will compliment the work of the IBM lab. These are in software certification, open data, enterprise incubation and support for public sector digitisation," Mr Paul Kukubo, the CEO of Kenya ICT Board, said. "We see IBM as a great partner in advancing the agenda the board’s transformation of Kenya," Mr Kukubo added.
The research facility is expected to be operational this September and will have its base in Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi.
Africa will be the 12th laboratory in the world-wide IBM network of labs, joining existing labs in Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, India, Ireland, Israel, Switzerland and the United States, as IBM continues to expand its research operations in key growth markets.
The Kenya ICT Board was established by HE President Mwai Kibaki, as a state corporation under the State Corporations Act Cap. 446 on 19th February 2007. The Kenya ICT Board’s mission is to champion and actively enable Kenya to adopt and exploit ICT, through promotion of partnerships, investments and infrastructure growth for socio economic enrichment. Its vision is that Kenya becomes a top ten global ICT hub by 2030.
Capacity building programs are needed to establish a national strategy to properly address skills and training issues.
Such strategy would need the input, cooperation, and commitment of many parties. It needs to be led by the industry and involve partnerships with the government and education and training providers.
IBM Research - Africa will join existing labs in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the United States. IBM Research laboratories are credited with the creation of many of the foundations of information technology, including the invention of relational database, disk storage, DRAM memory and much more. IBM Research has been recognized with 5 Nobel Prizes, and many leading scientific and technical medals and awards. Recently IBM Research created a question-answering supercomputer called Watson that defeated the champions of a major televised quiz show, showing its ability to match humans in answering a wide range of free text questions.
For more information, contact Ms. Phyllis Nyambura, Communications, The Kenya ICT Board:
Tel: 0700 396 433