Established in 2012, IBM Research - Africa is IBM’s 12th global laboratory and the first science and technology research lab on the continent conducting both applied and far-reaching exploratory research. IBM Research’s presence in Kenya is intended to encourage and strengthen an innovative culture, and engage local entrepreneurs and innovators to develop solutions to the challenges faced by the people of Kenya, the surrounding region and other fast-growing markets around the world.
IBM has had a direct presence in Africa for more than 60 years that today spans 20 countries, including Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The establishment of IBM Research – Africa is just one of many ways in which IBM is investing in Africa and developing its economic capacity.
One particular issue across Africa is the inability of multiple government organizations to communicate with one another and share information. To that end, IBM Research - Africa is focused on Next-Generation Public Sector solutions so that information is automatically collected and analyzed from various sources to improve planning, scheduling and tactical decision making within and between agencies. Armed with the right information technology, government agencies can reduce the cost of social services, improve efficiency and productivity, deter fraud and abuse, improve citizen access to services and enable digital interaction between citizens and the public sector.
Nairobi is currently home to more than three million inhabitants, and the population is expected to grow to over five million by 2020 as migration to urban areas continues. With this large population growth it’s necessary to better manage and reconcile the various systems within the city. IBM Research - Africa will initially focus on two of these systems - water and transportation.
Using multiple data sources, analytics and models, IBM Research will develop a complete understanding of Kenya’s water system and optimize the use, storage, safety and distribution of the country’s water supply. The use of predictive analytics also has the potential to solve traffic congestion in Nairobi by using real-time insights to model and anticipate traffic jams.