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IBM to provide tech skills in three Kenyan universities


The IBM vice president research, Dr Robert Morris (right), with the Information ministry PS, Dr Bitange Ndemo, during a press conference in Nairobi on August 13 announcing the first IBM research lab in Africa

A US technology firm IBM has partnered with three local universities to develop skills in cyber security, data science, social business and cloud computing.

In the partnership, IBM will provide Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Riara University and Strathmore University with latest enterprise software and systems.

The three universities will also have free access to IBM’s experts, real time world case studies from range of industries and an extensive library of IT curricula for computer science, business and other degree programs.

This comes on the backdrop of a growing demand of cyber security experts due to the rising number of related cyber crimes that has seen the government lose some of experts it had trained on this field to the private sector due to low pay.

In 2012 more than 100 government websites were attacked, as it lost four out of six security experts it had trained to the private sector.

“Working with universities is a way to speed up the skills development required for the next generation of experts that companies such as IBM and other international and local enterprises need to enhance and grow the IT sector in Kenya,” said Tony Mwai, IBM general manager for East Africa. “Curriculum development and collaborative research reach a much wider student population.”

As more organisations turn to technology to solve tough business challenges, the need for skilled IT professionals continues to grow in all industries around the world.

Strengthening the IT skills base at the university level will help students drive local economic growth and innovation and prepare them to compete in the global IT market.

“We at Riara University are committed to nurturing innovators whilst inculcating a spirit of excellence, research and human resource development; such partnerships with leading innovators are critical to achieving our vision,” said Prof. Kiarie Mwaura, vice chancellor, Riara University.

Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said there is need to develop massive human resource capacity in ICTs and nurture talented and skilled people to ensure that all Kenyan graduates are ready for the highly technical workplace.

“In the next five years, we expect IT enabled services to contribute 25 per cent of the Kenyan GDP. This is the primary reason why we are aggressively partnering with the private sector to improve skills within ICT,” said Dr Ndemo.

The IT industry is expected to grow by 11 per cent annually in Kenya, creating a need for highly-skilled professionals capable of driving IT innovation and entrepreneurship.

Innovation hub
IBM opened its Nairobi innovation hub – the corporation’s sole research lab in Africa – in August last year and has now embarked on hiring top-notch African techies to develop innovative IT solutions for the continent.

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