IBM research lab officially opened in Kenya

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has officially opened the first commercial technology research facility in Africa at an inauguration ceremony in Nairobi. The facility is IBM's 12th global research lab, and is supported in Kenya by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology through the Kenya ICT Authority and located at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. 

The research 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 2000m2 facility features 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 Africa's most pressing challenges such as 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. In the new era of computing, IBM believes that Africa has a strategic opportunity to become an early adopter of cognitive systems.

“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 homegrown 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. Many more Kenyans are working in supporting roles.

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