IBM Promises Massive Investment Partnership in Africa

United States-based corporate giant IBM is embarking on an ambitious investment drive in Africa. This follows nine months of research by the company, which concluded December 4 with a conference in New York City. A number of topics were discussed during two different panel discussions, including the acceleration of Africa’s economic development. IBM says the time is ripe for investment in Africa based on the emergence of Africa as an economic partner in a globally integrated economy, as well as the unprecedented sustained annual growth rates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that some African countries are currently enjoying.

During the conference and as part of its commitment, IMB announced it was investing over $120 million as well as donating its super computer to assist in research work in higher learning institutions across the continent.

Nicholas Donofrio is IBM’s executive vice president of innovation and technology. From the company’s headquarters in New York, he tells VOA’s English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that the company is mostly interested in partnering with Africa as an emerging global economic force.

“The conference was actually a culmination of about nine months of work. And we brought all that work together in this conference in which about three or four hundred showed up from inside of Africa and outside of Africa with a single purpose of trying to understand the opportunity that exists, and talk about, and think about how to deal with some of that opportunity. And of course what we did was simply orchestrate all of these, bring it all together in a very open collaborative, multi-disciplined and global fashion. And by the way, those are ingredients we think are fundamentally important for innovation in the 21st Century. And at the end, made our commitments,” Donofrio noted.

He said most skeptics are unaware about the positive wind that is blowing across Africa, which he said could potentially attract investors.

“It’s very simple. It’s always about change in my mind. Everything that we do is always about change because it’s an incredibly fast changing world, and things are changing very fast in Africa just that most people don’t’ understand how fast things are changing and improving. Africa has approximately one sixth of the globe’s population, almost a billion people. It has the youngest population as a continent on the globe, and it has the fastest growing population as a continent on the globe. Blessed with natural resources, plenty of countries inside of Africa where there is political stability and therefore, the beginnings of economic stability. So, our sense is that Africa is going to emerge faster than most people think. That’s why we did the work,” he pointed out.

Donofrio shed light on some of IBM’s investment commitments in Africa.

“The $120 million was just an improvement next year. So, we are going to invest an additional $120 million in our ability to continue to do business in Africa. We also said we are going to hire 100 new professionals in Africa. We’ve been in Africa, as you know, for well over 50 years. So it’s not like we don’t understand what’s going on there and we haven’t been paying attention. We’ve got a very strong business in a number of countries. We want to grow that to more countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” Donofrio said.

He said IBM is also interested in helping among other things educational research work in Africa’s universities and other institutions of higher learning.

“On top of that we want to do some very specific things; we want to improve the infrastructure by giving Africa a world-class high performing computing system. We are giving them one of our blue genes high performance computers, one of our super computers. It’s going to be housed in one of the universities in South Africa, but it’s going to be opened to all of Africa to solve all types of critical, either infrastructure social healthcare, problems and climate, environmental problems and issues,” he noted.

Donofrio said IBM wants to partner but not exploit Africa in its quest to become a significant economic player on the world stage.

“This is not about handout or hand me down. The Africans that we spoke to… they were looking at focusing on being enabled to be their best. Being enabled to make a difference, and that is what we have structured our thinking around. It’s all about enablement, we want to be your partner, and we want to help you be what you want to be and what you can be. We want to work with your education system, we want to work with the infrastructure, we want to work with the government, and we want to work with industry partners in partnership to enable Africa to live up to these expectations, to fulfill itself,” Donofrio pointed out.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs