Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, officiated the opening of the first commercial technology research facility in Africa.
The lab is based in the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi and is highly supported by the countries Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology through the Kenya ICT Authority. This facility is IBM’s 12th global research lab
This lab will conduct applied and far-reaching exploratory research into the grand challenges of the African continent by delivering commercially-viable innovations that impact people’s lives.
The prestigious facility has one of Africa’s most powerful, cloud-enabled computing hubs, giving researchers the ability to analyse and draw insight from vast amounts of data in the search for solutions to major problems facing the continent; including energy, water, transportation, agriculture, healthcare, financial inclusion and public safety.
The lab’s research agenda will include the development of cognitive computing technologies which integrate learning and reasoning capabilities, enabling experts to make better decisions in areas such as healthcare delivery and financial services.
“The establishment of this research laboratory underpins the government’s commitment to innovation ecosystems that are already available in Kenya,” said Kenyatta. “Using innovation to drive home-grown solutions, Kenya continues to lead the continent in ICT. My government is proud that Kenya, and indeed Africa, will benefit from the presence of one of the most advanced research facilities, with some of the world’s most talented people, using some of the most powerful technologies to develop solutions for some of Africa’s most intractable problems.”
The lab brings together some of the best technology talent globally. Highly educated young Kenyans – many PhDs who were previously living in the diaspora, have been deployed at the lab, building a critical mass of Kenyan experts.
“We are currently experiencing the emergence of a new Africa – one where science and technology are enabling a pivotal ‘leap frog’ moment allowing governments and businesses to drive economic growth, raise the standard of living and compete with their global counterparts,” said Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Director, IBM Research Africa. “The launch of Africa’s first full-scale, technology research facility signifies a new era in African innovation – one where commercially viable solutions to Africa’s grand challenges are developed in Africa for Africa, helping to lay the foundations for the continent’s future scientific and economic independence.”