A year ago this month, IBM opened its 12th research lab in Nairobi, Kenya. By locating a global R&D lab in sub-Saharan Africa, the company aimed to signal its on-going business and philanthropic committment to the continent, according to Tim Docking, who leads the company’s Emerging Market Funding group.

“People should see that as a sign of our intention to not only invest in new ideas and innovation, but to also develop local ideas to solve local problems,” said Docking, speaking on the sidelines of the Devex Impact Strategic Advisory Council meeting in Washington D.C. 

Docking said that the company’s business goals in Africa are “robust” and noted that the company’s chief executive, Ginni Rometty, recently visited the continent, where IBM has offices in 20 different countries. 

Africa’s growing workforce is of particular interest to the company, said Docking. 

“By 2040, Africa will have the largest workforce on the planet, larger than China or India,” he said. “We see that population bulge, the young people coming into the economy, to be not only a business opportunity, but an area where we can find part of the future of our corporation.”

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About the author

  • Andrea Useem

    As former associate editor and content director for Devex Impact, Andrea created and managed cutting-edge content on the intersection of business and international development. An experienced multimedia journalist, Andrea also served as leadership editor at the Washington Post and spent three years as a foreign correspondent in Eastern Africa reporting for publications including the Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and San Francisco Chronicle.

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