Kenyan capital becomes third African city to hostan IBM 'innovation center.'
If the future of computing lies in mobile and the fastest growth in mobile uptake will come from poor countries, Africa is where much of the action will be. Kenya, a stable country with an impressive history of investment in communications technology, has emerged as a leader in the region.
This month, Nairobi became the third African city after Johannesburg and Casablanca, and the 41st globally, to become home to an IBM “innovation center,” a co-working space with high-end equipment and visiting experts. Last week, GSMA, a mobile operators’ association and standards-setting body, picked Nairobi for its first African office. They add to the growing list of large tech companies establishing a base in the city. Google’s east African headquarters can be found in Nairobi, as can Microsoft’s. IBM has operated a research center in the city since August.
International attention is focused on Nairobi for the simple reason that a lot of the worldwide growth in mobile will come from Africa. According to GSMA, mobile connections in sub-Saharan Africa, home to some 900 million people, will hit half a billion this year and 750 million by 2018. The effects of mobile broadband can already be seen: it’s killing traditional internet providers in Ghana, and in countries like Zimbabwe and Nigeria, mobile accounts for nearly 60% of web traffic. The global average is 10percent.