Tech firms around the world are continuing to look for the next emerging market to grow their business in, and East Africa is seen as one area with a burgeoning community of tech savvy firms.
In order to harness this talent, IBM has announced plans to open a research laboratory in the Nairobi. As part of their Smarter Planet strategy, IBM has already opened 11 research centres around the world. Although it has presence in 20 African countries already, Nairobi will host its first search centre on the continent. Although no figures have been released so far, IBM currenly spends around $6.5bn a year on research initiatives across the globe.
In a joint agreement with the Kenyan government, the firm will have as many as 50 researchers working in the centre over the course of the next five years. The Kenyan government is eager to build modern industries in the country, and has already set up its Vision 2030 initiative to create a more “knowledge-based economy.”
IBM’s Dr Robert Morris said the reasons for selecting Kenya was their long-term vision for the sector: “We choose Kenya because of the country’s ability to execute, taking innovation and using it. Kenya’s strategy of the Vision 2030 was a great long term vision accompanied by short term executable plans, that is why the country emerged top in our hunt to set up a lab in Africa.”
Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, welcomed IBM’s plans to invest in their tech industry: “We look forward to delivering world-class research and innovation as part of IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative and playing an important role as an IT leader on the African continent.”