IBM Launches New Cape Town Africa Innovation Center to Help Fuel Skills Growth in South Africa

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa - 17 Sep 2009: IBM (NYSE:IBM) today opened an Africa Innovation Center in Cape Town to foster the development of information technology and business skills and to expand its customer and business partner ecosystem in the region. The center will help local businesses develop and deploy new technologies that support key digital infrastructure opportunities in government, banking, insurance, retail, and travel and transportation industries.

The IBM Africa Innovation Center in Cape Town will provide local customers, business partners, start-up companies, independent software vendors (ISVs), IT professionals, and the academic community with access to training workshops, consulting services, a broad technical infrastructure, and hands-on assistance to help solve business challenges and bring new technologies to market.

The center supports IBM's efforts to help grow the burgeoning local IT ecosystem and is a key addition to IBM's US$120 million, two-year market expansion investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

As the second IBM Africa Innovation Center established in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Cape Town center will help connect businesses and academics with the Johannesburg center, which opened last year, and additional local IBM initiatives. The new center will support skills development by demonstrating and providing training and access to open standards-based and emerging technologies such as cloud computing, Web 2.0, service oriented architecture (SOA) and energy efficient IT solutions.

Through its expansion efforts, IBM has grown its South African business partner community by 40 percent since the beginning of 2008, adding more than 200 new companies to a group that now totals over 700 local resellers, solution integrators and ISVs today. In Cape Town alone, 140 ISVs offer solutions that run on IBM software and hardware.

"Cape Town possesses a strong innovative spirit, and with access to the appropriate skills and resources, local businesses and academics can collaborate to build a vibrant technical community," said Oliver Fortuin, General Manager, IBM Sub-Saharan Africa. "The new Africa Innovation Center demonstrates IBM's commitment to help build the IT ecosystem to provide the necessary tools for developing 21st century skills and driving economic growth in the region."

As part of IBM's efforts to support the growing South African technical community, the company has helped develop curricula and provided no cost access to software, hardware and industry experts to ten South African higher education institutions, including the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, over the past year.

Additionally, IBM has seen substantial growth among South African IT professionals taking advantage of IBM developerWorks, the largest and most visited global site to gain technology skills. Over 10,600 unique South African developers are visiting developerWorks each month in 2009, gaining access to software tools and code, IT standards and best practices, and skills training in technologies such as IBM and open source software, Linux, Java, XML and cloud computing.

IBM Innovation Centers

The Cape Town IBM Africa Innovation Center, based in Century City, North of Cape Town, joins the growing worldwide network of 47 IBM Innovation Centers.

In 2008, IBM Innovation Centers assisted more than 22,000 business partners with workshops, seminars and consultations to help build their skills, lower development costs and reduce time-to-market.

Silvermoon Business Systems, a Cape Town-based insurance solutions and software company and IBM Business Partner, has taken advantage of free resources to test and validate its solution on IBM DB2 and WebSphere software at the IBM Africa Innovation Center in Johannesburg.

"Through support from the IBM Africa Innovation Center in Johannesburg, we've been able to deliver our enterprise-level insurance software components on multiple IBM platforms which has opened up new opportunities for us in the global market," said Quenten Friday, founder and director of Silvermoon Business Systems. "The establishment of the IBM Innovation Center in Cape Town will provide an immense resource to Silvermoon and the hundreds of other local IT companies through education, IT and marketing resources, and the ability to host customer engagements with IBM here in our backyard."

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