As part of its two-year, $120-million investment in southern Africa, IBM has launched the Africa Innovation Centre, the first on the continent to drive IT skills development and address business challenges in the region.
The Innovation Centre also houses Africa's for cloud computing centre.
Speaking at the opening ceremony today, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “We are highly energised by IBM’s investment because it directly responds to our call for increased private sector investment into sustainable initiatives that advance priority technical skills.
"It is also encouraging that the company’s plans integrate the entire sub-Saharan Africa, which assures us that in the long term we will secure a thriving South Africa in a prosperous region.”
Steve Mills, seniot vice-president and group executive of the IBM Software Group, adds: "The Africa Innovation Centre is a landmark investment for IBM because it represents our commitment to be a partner in the continent’s growth agenda."
This commitment is backed by IBM’s globally integrated enterprise strategy, driven by a newly-created IBM Growth Markets Organisation to accelerate the company’s performance in rapidly expanding markets including Africa.
IBM is already working with almost 300 software companies in sub-Saharan Africa. The new centre will offer access to IBM’s global network of 39 IBM Innovation Centres and 60 research and development labs.
The centre will showcase business approaches and open technologies such as cloud computing, Web 2.0 technologies, service-oriented architecture (SOA), and systems management. It will also demonstrate next generation banking systems offered at the Banking Centre of Excellence as part of the new innovation centre, and environmentally-friendly computing designs.
In cloud computing, dynamically-shared computing resources are virtualised and accessed as a service, making it a particularly attractive proposition for small to large-sized companies in Africa.
The new IBM Africa Innovation Centre will offer an array of resources for IBM business partners, software start-ups, IT professionals and academia, enabling them to develop skills and deliver solutions to global markets using IBM’s open architecture.
Africa was most recently the theme of IBM’s 2007 Global Innovation Outlook (GIO), a global thought leaders’ forum on the changing nature of innovation that has a positive impact on business and society. The GIO indicated that factors critical to the continent’s future included skills, infrastructure development and financing for small business.
“The Africa Innovation Centre puts South Africa on the global radar of IBM’s business strategy as we continue to be an active partner in the continent’s economic transformation into a major global player,” says Mark Harris, MD and country GM of IBM Sub Saharan Africa. “We see this investment as game-changing and creating enormous opportunities for skills development, industry promotion and economic growth."
In addition to establishing a $15-million IBM Business Continuity and Recovery Services facility last year in Cresta, IBM this year will donate a $1,5-million Blue Gene supercomputer to the Meraka Institute, which will be hosted by the Centre for High Performance Computing in Cape Town. It will be used by a range of stakeholders on the continent for challenging social, economic, and environmental issues as well as for skills development.