Durban has been awarded an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant valued at $500 000, to fund consultations with IBM experts and senior consultants. Consultants will work with the city leadership to develop a skills development roadmap aligned to eThekwini’s economic development and job creation plan.

“The eThekwini Municipality is looking forward to working with the team of Executives from IBM, exploring ways to improve the city’s skills base and increase economic opportunities in the city,” says eThekwini Municipality Mayor Nxumalo.

Durban is one of only three African cities to receive this grant and one of only 16 cities around the world to qualify and receive the highly prized three-week engagement. Nxumalo says eThekwini municipality would focus its efforts on boosting economic development.

For this consultative engagement, the IBM team will invest months studying aspects of and best case practice of skills development and economic development. Then they will spend three weeks on the ground in the region gathering and analysing all relevant data, while meeting in person with dozens of members of the government, citizen, business, and not-for-profit communities.

In doing so, they gather diverse perspectives about the causes and potential solutions to the challenge facing the eThekwini Municipality leadership.

At the conclusion of these studies, IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for solving the problem, followed weeks later by a more detailed, written plan for its implementation.

The team, which will arrive in South Africa later this year, will comprise of IBMers who hail from all over the world, and who offer diverse perspectives and skills. The team typically will include skills across in the areas of marketing, communications, technology, research and development, government, human resources, finance, business, legal matters and specific disciplines such as transportation, energy and health.

“This is a significant investment to support the City in its aspirations to be a Smart City. We believe that by providing critical thinking and solutions beyond technology we can support the development goals particularly around economic development and poverty alleviation,” says Abraham Thomas, country GM of IBM South Africa.

“The efforts of our international colleagues will also compliment the Smarter Cities work we currently have underway with several cities and metros in South Africa.”