ARMONK, New York — Given rapidly growing consumer markets in Africa, IBM plans to grow its investments in African nations. The company has been involved within the continent for the past 60 years, but it has recently announced that its plan to elevate its operations as a part of an initiative to develop the third world.
Across the globe, extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day) has been cut in half since 1990. African nations have also been able to reduce their levels from 51 percent in 1980 to 47 percent in 2008. As a continent that accounts for almost 15 percent of the global population, the reduction in poverty has been the root of the growing consumer markets, which are now quite prevalent.
Sub-Saharan Africa embodies this sort of growth, where in the past three years alone, gross domestic product (GDP) has increased by 5 percent. As a result, major markets in Kenya and Nigeria have been able to increase by 50 percent in the past year.
Currently, Africa is growing at a rapid pace, but there are still many people who live in extreme poverty that have gone unnoticed. However, aid is able to improve the lives of the undeveloped population while also providing growing markets for enterprises to invest in. Considering the extent of infrastructure scarceness within developing nations of Africa, investment also gives people access to resources they are otherwise unable to attain.
The opportunity for aid of this sort, along with the potential for high returns on investment, have been at the root of why companies such as IBM have sought to expand to Africa.
IBM has also announced that in regards to increasing its involvement in Africa, it plan on using a smarter technical systems with the goal of “transforming business, government and society across the continent.”
At the private and public levels, it is quite certain that nations of Africa account for some of the most technologically scarce areas in the world. However, IBM has made efforts to boost research into cognitive computing technologies so it can develop public health, education and agriculture. So far, there are already ongoing projects spanning across areas involving energy, water, transportation, agriculture, healthcare, financial inclusion and human mobility and public safety.
The efforts of IBM show there is a vast amount of potential for the continent of Africa. Though it is a rapidly growing region, there are still ways to account for those who still live in extreme poverty. At the roots, alleviating extreme poverty will allow for people to grow into the status of consumers—allowing for a wide number of markets to open up. Additionally, investment in the manner of IBM would help to develop the scarce infrastructure of Africa.
– Jugal Patel
Sources: IBM, The Economist, IBM, Wall Street Journal
Photo: Venture Beat