A team of IBM experts have completed a pro bono consulting assignment with the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), recommending that the province establish an Innovation Hub. The hub would act as a vehicle to drive the province’s transition from being resource-based to a more inclusive knowledge economy.
Innovation hubs are social communities or workspace or research centres that provide subject-matter expertise on technology trends, knowledge and strategic innovation management, and industry-specific insights. These hubs enable active knowledge transfer between researchers and business experts, on the one hand, and industry, government and representatives of academia, on the other hand.
Executive mayor Thembi Nkadimeng, who received the team’s recommendations for Limpopo, says: “Information and communication technologies are important for raising living standards and the quality of life for our people. With these new platforms we can improve quality of services and accelerate our Smarter City vision, using them fully.”
The IBM team provided expertise as part of the company’s Corporate Service Corps, which provides problem-solving support to educational institutions, small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies in emerging markets. The team was the 14th such deployment to South Africa and underlines IBM’s ongoing commitment to the continent.
The recommendation to establish an ICT Innovation Hub, managed by the LEDET Centre of Excellence, was one of a number of recommendations made by the team.
The IBM experts and volunteers worked in the field for a month at the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, the University of Limpopo as well as the Ivanplats Mine, concluding the one month pro bono assignment.
Dan Esmond, an IBMer who participated in the company’s from IBM Corporate Service Social Corps here, and who was working on the LEDET scope of work, said:  “The recommendations geared towards establishing an innovation hub are based on the economic impact of ICT. The innovation hub will act as the nexus of collaboration and co-operation between government, businesses, universities and research institutions, enabling the transfer of knowledge and technology. It will actively foster the creation of new and sustainable innovation-based companies in the province. The roadmap that the team developed will set LEDET in the right direction, and enable their best chance of success.”
MEC for Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Seaparo Sekoati, noted that between 2010 and 2015 the number of innovation hubs in Africa has grown from nine hubs in seven countries to 31 countries hosting 117 active hubs today. “The experiences that IBM has outlined from other countries, provides Limpopo the opportunity to learn from best practice and implementing the provincial plans effectively,” says MEC Sekoati.
The IBM Corporate Social Corps Programme exposes IBM employees to the 21st century context of doing business – with special focus on emerging markets, diverse cultures, and more sustainable business practices. The pro-bono deployment of volunteers aims to contribute to the economic and social development priorities in a host country, as well as to build leadership skills and a knowledge base of IBM’s top performing employees.
Since 2008, IBM has dispatched more than 1 200 of its top employees on over 100 engagements in 34 countries.