Kenya's claim to being Africa's leader
in information and communication technologies (ICT) got a boost last
month, when IBM announced it would place its first African research
lab in the country's capital Nairobi.
The announcement, on 13 August, is a
feather in Kenya's cap. Like other African nations, it is looking to
the private sector to pad out national spending on research and
development (R&D) and boost innovation.
By getting the lab, Kenya joins
countries like Australia, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Israel,
Japan, Switzerland and the United States, which host the computer
giant's other research units.
'IBM Research – Africa' will conduct
basic and applied research in areas including the use of modern
technology to improve government efficiency, root out corruption and
manage city services, such as water utilities and traffic control.
The lab will serve Africa as a whole,
and house IBM researchers alongside Kenyan and other African talent,
selected and nurtured through a Resident Science Programme.
"The IBM research lab will not
only rubber stamp Kenya as Africa's leader in ICT, but will help the
country to transform into a knowledge-based economy", Bitange
Ndemo, permanent secretary in Kenya's ICT ministry, was quoted as
saying in a press release.
But the decision means other African
countries with ambitions in ICT leadership will need to do some
soul-searching to work out how to achieve their technological