IBM Promotes Cloud Delivery in Africa with New Mainframe Innovation Hubs

Dedicated facilities in Nairobi and Johannesburg to help expand use, capabilities for big data and cloud computing across the continent

Nairobi, Kenya and Johannesburg, South Africa - 15 May 2014:

IBM (NYSE:IBM) today announced the opening of two new Mainframe Cloud Innovation Centers as it seeks to extend its commitment to delivering high capacity technology solutions to Africa.

Located in Nairobi, Kenya and Johannesburg, South Africa, the labs will seek to provide clients, Business Partners and academic institutions with access to extended Big Data, Analytics, mobile and cloud computing technologies on the mainframe to help solve challenges across a broad spectrum of areas ranging from applied research to academic enablement.

“Cloud computing offers African countries the unprecedented opportunity to fast track their increasing participation in global markets in spite of the comparative lack of the traditional infrastructure used to facilitate trade around the world,” said Pat Toole, General Manager, System z, IBM. “Powered by our System z technology, these hubs will deliver optimal economics per workload to our clients and Business Partners who will also be able to access global best practice through our international network of centers.”

Linked to IBM’s global network of over 40 Cloud Innovation Centers, the new mainframe facilities are the latest in a series of investments IBM has made to develop more capacity in Africa in the last four months.

In February, the company announced two new Innovation centers in Nigeria and Morocco. The IBM Research – Africa lab – the first of its kind on the continent – will also receive $100 million over the next ten years to create solutions for Africa through an initiative known as ‘Project Lucy’.

Africa is expected to be part of an anticipated $3.47 billion being spent on high value infrastructure projects[1] this year, and private companies, IT partners, public sector heads and academics are anxious to better understand how technology can help transform their processes.

The new centers will enrich the capability of both IBM and its Business Partners to deliver cloud-based solutions around analytics and mobile to governments, the private sector and enhance understanding of System z technology by academic students as seen in the recently concluded Master the Mainframe competitions held in Kenya and South Africa.

Escalating Success for Mainframe in Africa

This is the latest in a series of mainframe-related announcements from IBM in Africa.  Last month, the Government of Ghana announced that they were working with Yale University and IBM Research – Africa to help eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Ghana.

As part of a global consortium announced by President John Dramani Mahama, IBM through the ONE Campaign will work to help reduce the rate of mother-to-child transmission to less than 5 percent by the year 2018, which would meet a goal set by the World Health Organization.

Ghana has one of the highest rates of HIV among pregnant women in the world. HIV testing during pregnancy is often deferred due to lack of public awareness, limited access to diagnostic tests, and cultural stigma.

IBM is also working with industries across Africa to develop a vibrant mainframe ecosystem. For instance, in South Africa, First National Bank (FNB) has seen incredible growth across mobile banking channels due to its mainframe environment. The mainframe is at the heart of FNB’s drive to deploy mobile “bank-in-a-box” solutions that deliver financial services over any channel in near-real time and a new confidence in the institution.

Alongside it’s investment in the two new centers in Nairobi and Johannesburg; IBM will also be extending its ability to provide pan-African capability for the mainframe through a new collaboration with Business Connexion (BCX).

Over the last 50 years, the mainframe has been the backbone of some of the world’s most critical and sensitive workloads and industries. Unceasingly adapting to evolving trends, the IBM Mainframe secures the era of cloud, analytics, mobile and social. All of which are possible through new technologies built in collaboration with clients and bolstering the skills of future mainframe enablers and innovators in over 1000 universities, from 67 countries.

This is one of the reasons that 92 of the top 100 worldwide banks, 21 of the top 25 Insurance organizations, 23 of the top 25 retailers and the majority of credit card transactions rely on the Mainframe, the only commercial platform with EAL5 security classification. 

To find out more about the mainframe and how it has helped clients around the world here:


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[1] Gartner, Middle East and African IT Infrastructure Revenue by Technology Report,  February 2014

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(From left) Deon Newman, Vice President, System z Marketing and Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Vice President, IBM Research Africa follow closely as Nik Nesbitt, Country General Manager, IBM East Africa explains the functions of the Mainframe and how it works at the official launch of the Mainframe Linux & Cloud Innovation Centre in Nairobi, Kenya (courtesy: IBM)

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