LAGOS, Nigeria and CASABLANCA, Morocco, Feb. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced it is further expanding its operations across Africa with the opening of two new IBM Innovation Centers in Lagos, Nigeria and Casablanca, Morocco. These new centers aim to spur local growth and fuel an ecosystem of development and entrepreneurship around Big Data and Analytics and cloud computing in the region.
Approximately one in every two medium to large businesses in both South Africa and Kenya already use the cloud. In Nigeria, cloud usage is expected to more than double to 80 percent of businesses by the end of next year. At the same time, organizations around Africa are looking for ways to improve their analytics skills and more accurately tap into the data being produced by mobile devices and tablets - and, better anticipate the needs of their customers by delivering improved services.
As the local demand for these types of advanced technologies and skills increases, Africa is quickly moving to the center of global attention as the last big emerging market of the current economic era. According to the IMF, Africa is set to be the world's second fastest growing region with projected growth of over five percent this year. Africa-grown innovation is key to the continent's future development, and dependent on close collaboration between local experts and global innovation leaders.
To take advantage of this explosive growth - clients, IT partners, developers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and academics will now have access to the latest Big Data and Analytics and cloud-focused enterprise software, hardware, client services, skills training, business and marketing support.
The new Innovation Centers will focus on providing constituents with solutions that use Big Data and Analytics and cloud computing technologies to solve key local and global challenges such as improving government services, digitizing banking services and enhancing customer centricity in telecommunications. Clients will now be able to participate in virtual and in-person training, test out new products, network with peers from around the world, and receive mentoring and guidance from IT and business experts. For example, the Innovation Centers will give clients hands-on access to cloud-based industry solutions such as IBM Intelligent Operations designed to provide cities, governments and utilities with a central command center that utilizes predictive analytics to enhance efficiency and centrally manage all of their operations.
"Innovation has become a key driver of positive change in developed nations, and IBM has blazed the trail once again in this market with its new Innovation Center," said Victor Hammond, managing director of Bankers Warehouse Plc. "I foresee this facility becoming a key driver of technology innovation in Nigeria, helping to promote the culture of knowledge incubation and scientific enquiry in all sectors of Africa."
The new centers will focus on:
-- Nurturing and grow regional IT innovation, help startups and new business IT solutions get to market faster.
-- Developing new advanced solutions and techniques across a variety of industries through the use of Big Data and Analytics and cloud computing that address important societal challenges.
-- Providing an environment for clients to meet, demo and explore new ways that these advanced technologies can improve decision making and streamline business operations.
-- Broadening awareness and strengthen skills in the various African regions among students, recent graduates and existing professionals. As part of today's news, IBM's Innovation Center in Johannesburg has also been enhanced with new capabilities. The first center of its kind in South Africa, it represents continued investment by IBM in the South African IT sector. Located at IBM South Africa's offices in Sandton, the IBM Innovation Center will now offer clients hands-on access to advanced technologies in cloud, data, mobility and social business in a variety of industry and client environments.
IBM Continues to Expand Operations in Africa
IBM is working to transform systems across Africa -- specifically banking, telecommunications and government -- and is working with clients and partners to put in place the systems, infrastructures and processes that underpin the continent's economic and social transformation. IBM is engaged with hundreds of clients across the region, such as: Santam, RAWBANK in the DRC, Fidelity Bank and Surfline Communications in Ghana, Bharti Airtel across 17 African countries, and Morocco's Ministry of Economy and Finance.
For example, IBM is already working with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to create the world's largest and most comprehensive clinical dataset on cancer patients by building cancer registries in developing nations, beginning in Sub-Saharan Africa.
IBM has operated in Africa since the 1930's, and today has a direct presence in more than 20 African countries, including: Tanzania, Senegal, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Mauritius. Over the next few years IBM plans to continue strengthening this network with new facilities, offerings and partnerships.
According to the IMF, Nigeria is West Africa's leading economy and Africa's most populous nation accounting for over 160 million people and expected to become the world's 13th largest economy by 2050.
Separately, the Moroccan economy is also growing rapidly. The Moroccan government has had a clear strategic vision over the last five years to grow and diversify their economy by seeking to expand its renewable energy capacity with a goal of making 40 percent electricity output by 2020.
"As an IBM partner, Hightech Payment Systems sees great value in IBM Morocco's Innovation Centre," said Mr. Mohamed Horani, Founder, Chairman and CEO at Hightech Payment Systems. "It is the ideal location to help our clients gain a greater understanding of our electronic payment solutions that run on IBM's platforms.
Mr. Mohamed Horani added, "With the centre's software and hardware resources, and the great expertise of IBM's consultants, we have already organised numerous demo workshops for our clients. I am thrilled to see that this centre is also positioned to better service universities, entrepreneurs, and start-ups in Morocco and Francophone Africa."
The new Innovation Centers join a worldwide network of over 41 IBM Innovation Centers in 33 countries. Through this network, IBM connects local companies and entrepreneurs with technical and industry experts around the world and can support growth with introductions into new markets. The centers in Lagos and Casablanca join IBM's other existing African Innovation Centers in Johannesburg and Nairobi.
For more information on IBM in Africa: http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/presskit/34710.wss
For more on IBM's Big Data and Analytics Portfolio, visit: http://www.ibmbigdatahub.com/ and http://www.ibm.com/bigdata
For more on IBM's Cloud Computing Portfolio, visit: http://www.ibm.com/cloud-computing/us/en/
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