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IBM invests $61m to help Johannesburg tech hub grow

Johannesburg’s Braamfontein has been making steady moves into becoming the tech hub of Johannesburg, in fact, many see it as one already. The Johannesburg Metro has also initiated a number of programs to see that this happen. And though the results must be assessed in the long term, Jozi has begun to attract investments.

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IBM, an American multinational technology and consulting corporation, has invested in Braamfontein by expanding its IBM Research Africa. IBM is investing R700-million (around US$61-million) over ten years in a new laboratory at the University of Witwatersrand’s Tshimogolong Precinct tech hub in Braamfontein. The new research facility will open at the beginning of April 2015.

South Africa joins IBM’s research portfolio network of 12 research labs around the world with more than 3500 researchers. This is IBM’s second research hub in Africa, its first was opened in Nairobi, Kenya.

At the announcement of the investment in South Africa, IBM reiterated its commitment to Africa. Dr. John E. Kelly III, Senior Vice President of IBM Solutions Portfolio and Research, explained why IBM chose to invest in South Africa:

IBM considers two factors when deciding where to place research labs: access to world-class skills and talent and the ability to work on pressing business and societal challenges that can be best addressed through advanced information technology.

The tech hub will focus on advancing Big Data, cloud and mobile technologies to support South Africa’s national priorities, drive skills development and foster innovation-based economic growth.

This is part of a 10 year investment through the Department of Trade and Industry and working closely with the Department of Science and Technology.

“South Africa provides an exciting backdrop as we look to expand our research efforts in the region,” Kelly says. “Our Africa-based researchers are part of a global community of IBM scientists who are forging the future of our company and ensuring that we remain at the forefront of scientific discovery.”

Read more Kenya’s ICTA launches $1.2-million fund for tech startups

Professor Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor and Principal, Wits University, commented on Wits decision to have the hub located at Wits. “IBM Research’s decision to locate in Johannesburg will give a huge boost to a dynamic community of programmers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and startups.”

Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology, noted that “It is essential to increase research and development activities in order to foster innovation and support the further diversification of the economy.”

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