According to IBM General Manager for Central East and West Africa Mr. Jean-Christophe Knoertzer in an interview with BrandArena, Africa is in a unique position to do what no other region in the world has done, which is to leapfrog technologies.
"Because Africa is relatively unburdened by legacy technologies, businesses and governments are able to take best practice case studies and best of breed technologies from around the world, tweak them to their needs and successfully implement working solutions without the need to invest heavily in legacy systems. This gives them an unprecedented edge in order to compete more effectively in the global market."
"Africa’s collective GDP is expected to rise to $2.6 trillion by 2020 and it's IT market is expected to grow to be worth over $40 billion this year, up from $30 billion last year. This represents a huge opportunity for any company and IBM is committed to being part of this continuing growth story. We see huge potential in the market which forms a pivotal part of our overall growth markets strategy".
Knoertzer said the company is actively engaging in laying the foundations for a major presence across Africa and also have a broad program of investment in place covering the creation of new facilities, offices, training and recruitment, sales and marketing. "For example, in 2012, we opened our first research laboratory on the continent, in Kenya, and more recently this month we opened an Innovation Centre in Nairobi".
He stated that like every environment, company has been able to overcome most of its challenges in Africa. "There are no challenges that are unique to Africa - we typically face similar challenges in any emerging market, for example, finding the right talent or being able to forge new relationships in territories where we may not have been present.
"We overcome these challenges by, for example, creating tight bonds with academic institutions in key markets so that we are able to better understand the talent availability in various markets. We also have increased our direct presence in Africa from just four main locations in 2006 to over 20 across Africa currently. This puts closer us closer to our customers and gives the unique stand-point to understand their needs and the solutions that will work best for them more intuitively".
Commenting on the expectation of Africa's customers on IBM services, Knoertzer submitted that same level of services that could be find anywhere else in the world should be expected. He added that as a globally integrated company, part of IBM strategic growth play in Africa is geared towards ensuring that our customers have the same access to our unique brand of services, products and expertise as they would in any other market.