Saturday, August 04, 2007

IBM Thinks Africa


About three months ago I received a rather short and nondescript comment in my guest book. Now around the same time I had been receiving spam comments and the like, so I didn't pay the visitor's words much mind. About one or two weeks after that I received an email from someone who said they were from IBM-huh? And the email had something to do with Africa. Ok, that got my attention. So, I read the email again, just to make sure that it was real. Indeed it certainly appeared so. The letter conveyed that IBM was working on putting a small panel together-sort of like a think tank, consisting of about 30 people, and the focus of these "deep dive" sessions would be to brainstorm about economic progress on the African continent. They are calling this forum the IBM Global Innovation Outlook (GIO) and this series is titled IBM GIO Think Africa.

To make a long story short, I accepted the invitation and attended the event. What a treat it was to event to attend this event. One of the highlights for me was participating on a discussion about the impact that the continent's informal economies have had upon the lives of the participants of the event, as well as the overall impact upon the continent's economies. I also had a chance to sit down with an IBM vice-president to talk about the company's strategy on the continent. The post will be published on African Path this week. Perhaps even more major, though, were the one-on-one connections that I was able to make while there. There was a NEPAD official, several university professors, a Ghanaian King, several fortune 500 executives, two university students, and several others.

Here is a snippet from the GIO blog summarizing the event:

"Hubert Danso, vice chairman of the African Investment Advisory Group at NEPAD, spent years shopping positive business stories around to the international media types. He got nothing but lip service. So he finally decided that if he wanted the stories of Africa’s burgeoning economic prowess and entrepreneurial spirit to reach the world, he was going to have to tell those stories himself. Danso is now the managing editor of Africa Investor magazine. It’s as slick as anything you’d pick up on a New York newsstand, has top-notch research, and relentlessly covers business issues in and around the continent. If you want to get the other side of the business climate story in Africa, it’s a must-read.

Other deep dive participants have broached the idea of a news portal that focuses exclusively on positive stories coming out of Africa."


You may find out more about the IBM deep dives by visiting their blog here. Otherwise, be on the lookout to hear what an IBM Vice President has to say about doing business in Africa. Please stay tuned!


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3 comments:

t said...

Thanks for the cool story.

Benin "Mwangi" said...

T no problem. There should be more to follow if I can shake this crazy schedule...

Ryan Petersen said...

Hey,
I'm working at the TA for a course on Entrepreneurship in Africa at Columbia Business School this semester. The course is being taught by Paul Tierney, chairman of TechnoServe and adjunct professor at the school. We're looking for guest speakers and course materials, and this panel from IBM looks like a very rich resource. Would you mind linking us up with that network? Give me a call if you have any questions,
415-816-4994.

Thanks!

Ryan Petersen
rpetersen08@gsb.columbia.edu

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