IBM Experts Help Drive Economic and Social Change in Ethiopia

Projects with government ministries and NGOs support Ethiopia’s emergence as the ‘African Lion’

ADDIS ABABA - 04 Sep 2014: A team of 15 IBM (NYSE: IBM) experts today presented its recommendations to Ethiopian leaders on a range of critical projects aimed at supporting Ethiopia’s national Growth and Transformation Plan. 

The business and technology experts from 10 different countries spent 4 weeks on the ground in the country’s capital Addis Ababa, working with government ministries and NGOs to help them attract foreign investment, deliver healthcare services, and track economic growth.  They explained the latest, most effective methodologies for achieving those goals, including mobile technologies, online portals and data analytics, along with the latest best practices in marketing, finance and project management.

Eduardo Rodriguez from Mexico interviews a Health Extension Worker

IBM Project Manager, Eduardo Rodriguez from Mexico interviews a Health Extension Worker as part of IBM's Corporate Service Corps project in Ethiopia.  (Credit: IBM)

The organizations with which IBM worked include the Ministry of Health, the Ethiopian Investment Commission, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and NGO Digital Opportunity Trust. IBM also worked with Dow Chemical to provide counsel to International Medical Corps -- the latest in a series of joint projects worldwide in which IBM has teamed with other companies looking to fortify their pro bono consulting programs.

The engagements come as the ‘Horn of Africa’ country continues on its path of accelerated economic growth and works to transform the standard of living for a citizen population of over 90 million. Hailed by some as the ‘African Lion’, Ethiopia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies with an average annual GDP growth rate of over 10% for the past decade (World Bank) and with plans to become a middle-income country by 2025.

The pro bono consulting work is part of IBM's Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program - a global pro-bono initiative through which IBM deploys teams of its most talented people on projects aimed at driving social and economic development. Africa has become a strong focus for IBM’s CSC program as it expands its operations across the continent and forges new strategic relationships with government, clients and not for profits.

“Over the past decade, Ethiopia has become one of Africa’s biggest economic and social success stories,” said HE Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu Birhane, Ethiopia's Minister of Health. “As Ethiopia continues along its course of economic and social transformation, it is important that we work closely with experts like IBM who can bring their global expertise and leading technologies to bear to ensure that our nation’s success is sustainable and inclusive.”

This week IBM presented its recommendations and findings to 5 clients which include:

-     The Ministry of Health: an IBM team identified opportunities to use internet and mobile technologies to support the country’s Health Extension Program. The IBM team recommended a text based communications system to enable the Ministry to communicate better with its 39,000 Health Extension Workers and a system to enable citizens in rural areas to send in views and comments about healthcare via mobile phones. A key part of the proposed solution is text analytics software to help identify emerging healthcare trends such as the spread of disease or public misconceptions about healthcare issues.

-     The Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC): IBM developed plans for an integrated IT system to simplify and ease investment processes for foreign companies looking to set up business in Ethiopia. IBM recommended a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution with web interfaces to enhance process automation and integration across collaborating departments and external entities.

-     The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA): an IBM team came up with a set of recommendations to reduce the time and effort spent on the collection and analysis of key labor market data such as employment rates and job vacancies. The IBM team performed an analysis of best practices from around the world and identified opportunities and technologies to speed up processes and reduce margins of error.

-     International Medical Corps (IMC): an IBM team assessed IMC's information management system and recommended a methodology to measure the effectiveness of its programs. The team proposed a roadmap that leverages mobile and analytics technologies to gather and analyze data about nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene, primary health, and livelihood. It supports IMC's work in helping local communities become less vulnerable to events like drought and disease outbreaks. As part of the project, the IBM team collaborated with Dow Chemical to study and promote enhanced sanitation facilities in rural areas.

-     Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT): IBM consultants advised global NGO DOT on its program to roll out Business Development Service Centers which provide entrepreneurial and IT training to young people across Ethiopia. The IBM team came up with a set of recommendations to optimize offerings such as mentoring and job placement, identify new sources of funding and raise awareness of DOT’s services.

“As we continue to forge relationships across the African continent, the Corporate Service Corps Program is a powerful way for IBM to provide national, municipal, civic and social institutions here with the same expertise that we provide our commercial clients,” said Solomon Mengesha, IBM Business Development Manager East Africa. “We see great potential in Ethiopia and strong interest in developing innovative solutions that can drive further economic and social transformation.”

IBM has an active commercial presence in Ethiopia, supporting clients across a range of sectors including banking, government and telecommunications. For example, IBM is supporting the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) in its modernization and business expansion program as it rolls out core banking services across the country and launches new mobile and internet banking services.

About IBM Corporate Service Corps

IBM's Corporate Service Corps is a global pro-bono initiative through which IBM deploys teams of top achieving employees to emerging market countries. These global and multicultural teams spend one month on the ground working with local government, non profit civic groups, and small business to develop blueprints that touch issues ranging from economic development, energy and transportation, to education and healthcare.  Participating IBM employees offer skills that include technology, scientific research, marketing, finance, human resources, law, and economic development. 

By the end of 2014, IBM Corporate Service Corps will have dispatched approximately 2,600 IBM employees originating from 56 countries on engagements to 37 countries -- making this pro bono problem solving program one of the world's largest. Africa, a growing market for IBM, is one of the focal points of the program. By the end of 2014, the CSC will have deployed 800 IBM employees for projects in South Africa, Ethiopia, Angola, Senegal, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Egypt.

To learn more about IBM's Corporate Service Corps, please visit

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IBM Project Manager, Eduardo Rodriguez from Mexico interviews a Health Extension Worker as part of IBM's Corporate Service Corps project in Ethiopia. (Credit: IBM)

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