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RIM opens BlackBerry apps lab at Tuks

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BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RiM) has opened a BlackBerry apps lab at the University of Pretoria, a BlackBerry Authorised Academic Centre.

The BlackBerry apps lab aims to accelerate mobile application development in South Africa, thereby creating new economic opportunities and jobs in the mobile space, and supports the larger context and objectives of the South African Department of Communications’ (DoC) eSkills Institute.

The lab will provide local developers, including University of Pretoria students and faculty, start-ups, entrepreneurs and others, with access to resources in development, marketing, sales and training to help them expand their ideas and business opportunities. RIM will work with developers to create local and regionally relevant applications for BlackBerry smartphones, the BlackBerry PlayBook and devices running on the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform.

Prof Stephanie Burton, vice-principal: research and postgraduate studies at the University of Pretoria, says: “We are excited to be partnering with RIM to bring the BlackBerry apps lab to our campus. One of our key objectives at the University of Pretoria is to empower our students to develop industry relevant skills that will accelerate mobile application development in South Africa and help create new economic opportunities and jobs in the mobile space. Our partnership with RIM, and the collaboration with the DOC’s e-Skills Institute, will allow us to deliver on this promise.”

Rosey Sekese, director general of the DoC, says: “The e-Skills initiative aims to address the shortage of critical skills in the ICT sector. During this financial year, several initiatives are planned. We are excited at the huge potential that this programme offers us in our quest to close the skills gap in the sector.”

The e-Skills Institute (e-SI) is a South African government initiative that aims to harness the potential of ICT across the whole of society in order to help address the major socio-economic challenges that South Africa faces in service delivery, wealth creation and global competitiveness. The institute sees itself as a catalytic collaborator in e-skilling the nation in employment readiness, effective e-governance and service delivery, business development, socio-economic development and research and development.*

Bob Bose, MD for Africa at RiM, adds: “RiM is committed to supporting mobile software development in Africa and future digital entrepreneurs. The growth of smartphones and the appetite for mobile apps presents a huge opportunity for developers, and we’re pleased to work with the DoC and the University of Pretoria to share resources and ideas that will help and inspire innovative minds to make the most of that opportunity.  South Africa is a key innovation hub and by working together, we aim to build a community that will create locally relevant apps for BlackBerry customers, new skills and job opportunities for graduates and new revenue streams for developers.”

The BlackBerry apps lab is part of RIM’s extensive developer programme that spans Africa and includes key innovation hubs such as Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt. RIM also partners with groups such as Mobile Mondays and Garage 48 across the continent, hosts BlackBerry Developer Days and the annual BlackBerry Innovation Forum in Johannesburg, where developers are encouraged to share ideas with their peers, and hear from business innovators, technology leaders and BlackBerry customers.