Africa accounts for 14 percent of the world’s population and is recognized as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, these numbers give only a hint at the potential of this vibrant region, especially when you consider that the expected growth rate over the next 20 years is projected to increase by an average of 7 percent annually. Combine these statistics with the focus that global businesses are placing on the region and it’s becoming increasingly clear Africa will rapidly become a hub of innovation across a variety of industries.
As an emerging market, Africa is uniquely positioned to leverage a variety of Smarter Planet solutions that are built upon simplified and integrated technology and can serve as the backbone for new systems and services. The flip side of this is that, as an emerging market Africa also faces a set of unique and complex challenges. Key among these is a lack of infrastructure and more importantly, a critical shortage of skilled workers required to develop and manage this infrastructure.
With a local presence in more than 20 African countries, IBM is currently investing and working to assist African governments and businesses to build the strategies, expertise, policy frameworks, organizational structures and operating procedures they need to excel in the 21st century. Additionally, to help bridge the skills gap, IBM just launched a new initiative across Africa to empower clients, Business Partners, influencers and IBM employees with the tools needed to develop the knowledge to change and create new markets.
As part of this initiative, my team and I recently began a three-city visit to Africa that includes: Lagos, Nigeria; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya. In these cities, we have teamed with local IBM executives to host “PureSystems Academies,” where we can meet with local clients and influencers in order to listen to their needs, concerns and challenges and then offer possible solutions. As part of these academies, my team was able to train and educate hundreds of partners and IBM sales and technical staff.
To facilitate these discussions, the team also provided examples of organizations in other growth markets around the world that have had success tackling many of the same types of complex issues facing Africa by using expert integrated systems. These systems provide the building blocks for an IT infrastructure and have repeatedly helped organizations reduce their IT spending and operational complexities. Additionally, because of their simplicity, PureSystems provide an ideal platform to train workers with the skills required to manage modern IT infrastructures that can take advantage of technologies such as cloud, mobile and big data analytics.
By working and investing to help grow the skills and capabilities of partners, clients and the local influencers IBM will attempt to help bridge the education gap and allow African nations to realize the opportunities for a Smarter Planet.
I’ve included resource links below where you can learn more about growing opportunities in Africa and IBM’s past milestones. Next stop, Lagos.
Opportunity in Africa:
- A higher return on investment than any other emerging market for businesses
- The highest rate of growth in mobile subscriptions among major world regions
- Africa’s share of total global GDP to rise from 4% today to 7% in 2030.
- Africa’s IT has a served market growing to $12.5 billion in 2015.
Other potential Links/Resources
- Study: IBM Global Innovation Outlook (GIO) – Africa
- IBM Research’s new lab in Nairobi, Kenya
- Video: Ginni Rometty on Africa
Early IBM History
- 1921 Tabulating equipment of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company used in the 1921 census in South Africa.
- 1938 The first IBM employee in Sub-Saharan Africa — a customer engineer — is assigned to Central Africa.
- 1956 The first IBM Hundred Percent Club for Africa [for salesmen who have attained their annual quota] is held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
- 1958 The first installation of IBM equipment in Kenya is made at Standard Vacuum Oil Refining Company in Nairobi.
- 1961 The first IBM equipment in Nigeria is operated by the Federal Statistics Bureau in Lagos.
- 1964 The first IBM System/360 Model 30 in Ghana is ordered by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Accra.
- 2008 Some of IBM’s fist Corporate Service Corps teams, comprising employee-volunteers from around the world, arrive in Ghana and Tanzania. The teams engage in pro-bono projects which improve local conditions and foster job creation. In following years IBM deploys teams to Egypt, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
- 2009 IBM opens a subsidiary office in Nairobi, Kenya as the company’s headquarters for East Africa.
- 2009 IBM opens a subsidiary office in Lagos, Nigeria as the company’s headquarters for West Africa.
Innovative companies continue to look for ways to deliver business value by accelerating time to market, improving application performance, and reducing the staff time needed for many routine ongoing management and support activities. Learn how you can do that and more in this Integrated Systems Analyst Paper from the IDC.