October 09, 2008 03:00 ET

IBM Hosts Innovation Forum to Tackle Skills, Education, Green Issues With Africa's Thought Leaders

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA--(Marketwire - October 9, 2008) - Building on significant progress with its growing partner and client base in sub-Saharan Africa, IBM (NYSE: IBM) today will host an innovation forum in Johannesburg to discuss both progress made during the past year and what lies ahead. Today's forum brings together leaders from government, academia and businesses to spark new initiatives that advance Africa's position in the global economy.

Just under a year ago, IBM announced a $120 million investment in sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate the development of new markets, foster the growth of skilled IT professionals and create new jobs. Today, the company continues the dialogue, reinforcing its focus on world growth markets and collaborative approach to innovation.

The forum will highlight progress on programs kicked off in 2007, including:

The discussions today will also include new focus areas for collaboration including alternative energy solutions, banking the unbanked, and the role of women entrepreneurs in shaping Africa's future.

"We've made tremendous progress with our partners in Africa over the past year, and will continue to build on that momentum as we grow existing programs and implement new ones," said Bruno Di Leo, general manager, IBM Growth Markets. "An information technology infrastructure and a sound educational system are crucial as African business organizations look to compete globally. IBM is committed to playing an important role in providing the latest technology and expertise and in the development of skills across the continent of Africa, and in emerging markets around the world."

Today's forum is part of IBM's Global Innovation Outlook (GIO). Every year, IBM joins together with leaders from business, academia, and politics from around the world to create new opportunities for business and society. This program -- the GIO -- has focused on topics ranging from energy and the environment to transportation and mobility to security and society. In 2007, the GIO also focused on sustainable long-term economic development in Africa.

"Sub-Saharan Africa is a key focus of our growth strategy and we are rallying resources to ensure that we expand our reach to participate in the continent's economic transformation into global competitiveness," said Mark Harris, general manager, IBM sub-Saharan Africa.

IBM also recently invested in a strategic IT services delivery capability infrastructure that includes its Johannesburg-based Integrated Delivery Center, which has created 1,500 new jobs to date, and the Business Continuity and Recovery Services facility.

These investments are aligned with IBM's globally integrated enterprise model, which leverages the skills and strengths of different world markets to deliver quality services to its clients, wherever they may be.

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