IBM is opening its first research laboratory on the African continent and has chosen Kenya, and not SA, as the location for the facility.
IBM Research labs are credited with the creation of many of the foundations of information technology, including the invention of the relational database, disk storage and dynamic random-access memory. IBM Research has produced five Nobel laureates and won many other scientific and technical medals and awards.
Recently, IBM Research created a question-answering supercomputing system called Watson that defeated the champions of a major televised quiz show, showing its ability to match humans in answering a wide range of free text questions.
IBM Research Africa will join existing labs in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the US.
The lab will conduct basic and applied research focused on solving problems relevant to Africa and contribute to the building of a science and technology base for the continent, IBM says. Key research areas for the lab will include developing the “next-generation” public sector; smarter cities, with an initial focus on water and transportation); and skills development.
Operations at the lab will commence immediately. Expansion into other parts of Africa may be considered in a second phase, IBM says.
The new lab will establish a resident scientist programme, an international recruitment programme to reach Kenyan and other African applicants. The programme will try to attract top research and development talent to work with IBM researchers in the lab.
The resident scientist candidates will be pre- and post-doctoral researchers, including scientists and researchers from academia, government and industry.
Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in Kenya’s ministry of information, communication and technology, says the research lab will “rubberstamp Kenya as Africa’s leader in ICT”. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media
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