IN a move that is a direct vote to Kenya’s huge investment in ICT, IBM a Fortune 500 IT company is expanding its operations in Kenya from simply sales and marketing offices to a fully fledged operation to capture growth in the East African region.
During the press conference to announce the expansion, IBM also unveiled the person who will head the new company’s operations in Kenya in the capacity of a General Manager.
Tony Mwai who is slated to head the new nerve centre for Kenya and East Africa is an IBM employee who has been working in the company’s head office in USA for the last 25 years. Speaking to journalists, Mwai said he was happy to be back home.
“A lot of Africans have seen that Africa is the next growth continent and are flying back home to help their countries and continent to position itself for growth,” says Mwai.
The expansion in Kenya will allow the global technology group to better offer services to its clients, business partners, and government organisations, while supporting the country’s overall development agenda.
IBM’s move comes barely a year after CISCO Systems set up shop in Nairobi with its eyes set on the larger East Africa market.
The expansion will also mean a change of business model for the global technology company in East Africa. Previously, IBM had maintained a strong presence in Kenyan and East Africa through partners. But now, IBM will combine a direct trading model with the partnership model.
“We are looking forward to broadening our partnerships with all stakeholders to create value and growth for Kenya and all of East Africa,” says Mark Harris General Manager, IBM sub-Saharan Africa.
“By expanding our operations and deepening our commitment to the local market, we will better serve the needs of our growing customer base,” he adds.
IBM has been operating in Africa for nearly six decades and has invested more than $US120 million in the last two years as part of its strategy to focus on the world’s growth markets.
The investment includes a Johannesburg-based Africa Innovation Centre -which has a software solutions lab- cloud computing capability and a banking centre of excellence. Also, IBM has donated a Blue Gene Supercomputer, which is located at Cape Town’s Centre for High Performance Computing, to be used for research by institutions across sub-Saharan Africa.
“The sub-Saharan African market is poised for continued growth flowing from the development and expansion of telecommunications networks, power grids and transport infrastructure,” says Harris.
“We are seeing continued private and public sector investment in the region, and IBM is well positioned to help create a smarter African economy to compete in the global marketplace,” he notes
Concurrent with the announcement of the nerve centre for her clients in East Africa, IBM introduced its Smarter Planet initiative in Kenya.
Company executives who presided over the launch of the strategy in Nairobi said IBM’s vision of a smarter planet is about helping governments and organisations build intelligent, resilient, cost and energy efficient public institutions and businesses to improve service delivery to citizens.