David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

IBM Joins the Kenyan IT Party

New research lab joins companies in the fast-growing Nairobi tech scene.

  • August 14, 2012

Against the backdrop of a rapidly growing tech startup culture in East Africa (see “Kenya’s Startup Boom”), major corporate interest in African innovation continues to grow. Already companies including Google, Microsoft, Nokia, HP, Accenture, Samsung, and Huawei have offices in Nairobi; now IBM is establishing a research lab in the city, its 12th worldwide.

Among other things, IBM says it hopes to help modernize government services through IT, starting with new tools for reducing traffic congestion and improving the  management of water supplies in the region’s cities.

Kenya particularly holds vast potential to deliver new services, such as health care and education, through mobile phones. More than 26 million of the nation’s 41 million people at least have simple feature phones.

And the population is sophisticated in its use of those phones: more than 18 million use them for everyday banking and other transactions through M-Pesa, a banking service run by the country’s dominant wireless provider, Safaricom. IBM explained the lab’s function in more detail here.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

You've read of free articles this month.