NAIROBI Aug 13 U.S. computer services company
IBM and Kenya have opened a research lab they hope will
save the country billions of dollars by developing technology to
improve delivery of public services.
While IBM did not say how much it would invest, Robert
Morris, vice president for services research, said on Monday it
would be a "significant" amount. Globally, IBM ploughs about
$6.5 billion per year research and development.
Kenya will contribute $2 million annually over five years,
information and communication permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo
said, with copyrights for resulting works being shared.
Kenya, Rwanda and other countries in east Africa have
vibrant ICT sectors, typified by successful mobile phone-based
money transfer services, bill payment services and mobile
Ndemo said while it was hard to quantify the savings from
the resulting research, automating various government services
would save billions of dollars.
"There are several registries, which if we completely
automated, our estimate is that we can plough back to the
Exchequer up to $10 billion by simply creating efficiency
through higher productivity," Ndemo said.
IBM, which has a presence in more than 20 countries on the
continent, said the single biggest challenge facing African
cities was improving services such as water and transportation.
In Africa, IBM, a bellwether for the IT industry because of
its worldwide reach and breadth of businesses, already provides
network support for telecoms firms and commercial banks, among