IBM Set 10-year Plan to Address Cognitive Computing in Africa


The International Business Machine (IBM) has come up with a 10-year business model that will address cognitive computing in Africa. This, according to the company, will help develop data for the provision of solutions to Africans.

IBM unveiled the plan in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday at the 2014 IBM Cognitive Colloquium, which seeks to drive the new era of computing in Africa.

The 10-year business model tagged 'Project Lucy & Africa in the New Era of Computing', will address cognitive computing in Africa. The project is all about developing data for different sectors of the African economy, in order to meet the needs of Africans in today's digital world.

In his presentation, Vice-President, Global Labs, IBM Research, Dr. Robber Morris, said the Project Lucy is an approach by IBM to achieve digital technology that would do away with paper works and focus on solution data that would address key challenges in Africa.

"IBM has a strong belief that the major challenge of Africans is lack of enough information. The plan therefore is to to build the cognitive hub in Kenya, which is sensitive computer networks that will be connected to the cloud, where people could download information on education, health and others sectors of the African economy. It will help Africans to have access to useful information for research and businesses  among others," Morris said.

With cognitive computing, Africans could use their mobile phones to ask relevant questions on health and other areas of interest to human endeavour and receive instant answers through the phone, Morris added.

Vice-President and Chief Technical Officer of the Watson Initiative, Dr. Rob High, said the Lucy project is akin to the Watson initiative, developed in 2011 aimed at solving global social problems in healthcare, water technology among others.

According to him, lots of data have been developed and used in addressing global challenges, which is exactly what IBM wants to achieve in Africa, through Project Lucy.

Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Centre for Tuberculosis Research, Dr. William Bishai, who spoke on cognitive computing in the area of healthcare, gave instances how modern research had been enabled to create technology solutions that are currently addressing deadly diseases like Tuberculosis and Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, which before now, had no cure.

At the end of keynote addresses, a panel session was arranged that further discussed what the IBM Cognitive Colloquium means to Africans and how Africans could establish business from it that could create jobs opportunities for the African youths.

The panel session had the Director-General of Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT, Dr. Dorothy Gordon, Deputy Director, MIT Energy Initiative, Dr. Robert Stoner, among others.

According to Gordon, "Our continent is in a rapid transitional phase and nobody knows how to give better information on the right data that will enable people ask the right questions that will help them build the African future. The IBM Cognitive Computing will therefore address the situation to a larger extent."

Highlight of the event was the award of prizes for photo journalists that were able to use photography to tell the African story.

Tobbie Balogun from Nigeria, won the grand prize for capturing a baby sitting scene, where people leave their children to the care of others, while pursuing their daily living. Others whose works were selected, were Frank Odwesso, and Lawrence Shabu, both from Kenya. The award was organised by IBM.