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Intel- Pressing ahead with major investment in Africa

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Selecting what companies and entities invest in is always risky, but there are definitely trends that influence such decisions. President of Intel Capital, Arvind Sodhani, told ITNewsAfrica that data analytics and mobile are two key focal points for the Company.

President of Intel Capital, Arvind Sodhani (image: Charlie Fripp)
President of Intel Capital, Arvind Sodhani (Image source: Charlie Fripp)

“Data analytics is a very big trend for us. Mobility is also a big trend, such as smartphones and tablets, and also the apps that go with that. Even in high literacy regions such as Japan, we still see companies trying to do things differently in terms of apps. The world is such that all trends are making their way around the world faster,” he explained.

Perceptual computing is an emerging buzzword in the industry and spans all forms of technology that make use of sensory effects to enhance the user’s experience. Sodhani added that Intel is also moving into that space.

“We are continuing to invest in perceptual computing such as motion tracking, voice recognition and the likes. Just like our Ultrabook investments, we are heavy invested in that space.”

However Sodhani cautioned that there is always a give-and-take risk when investing in new technology. “For any investor, the most important part is deal-flow, and then you need to have people on the ground. Challenges in any market do exist, but we also invest $2 – 5 million a year, so that is a lot.”

Sodhani believes that the financial crisis is nothing to be concerned about anymore. “We are well past the financial crisis – for Venture Capitalists the crisis was 2009, but we are now past that and moving along. Luckily innovation didn’t die with the crisis – and we are even investing in companies that can’t even spell Venture Capital,” he jokingly explained.

In terms of Africa, he added that Intel remains committed to the Continent.

“We just opened the position for an Investment Manager in Nigeria, and we continue to have a presence in South Africa. There is definitely emerging opportunities … with about three investments in Africa. But, by the end of the year, there will maybe be four.”

“We recognise that we have an important role to play to foster technology in Africa. People need e-commerce and ecosystems to move ahead, and we are good at that.”

Another buzzword that has been used a lot lately is wearable technology such as Google’s Glass and Samsung’s Gear smartwatch.

“Wearable technology is a very interesting thing and we are investing in some of that technology. It’s an exciting area with a lot of potential. Most have open APIs which allows developers to let loose on their imagination. Wearable technology touches every part of our business, from data centres, servers, silicone chips in the devices, and even security will be a very important part of that as well.”

Even though wearable technology is readily available, there are still a number of problems that need to be rectified in order for it to become more widely accepted.

“It will be a while before the batteries in wearables will be sorted out and will also be connected though Wi-Fi. Work is also being done on 5G technology and that will spur more apps and development of apps that will make use of video and the likes, that will be incorporated into wearable technology devices,” Sodhani concluded.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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