IBM partners with 3 Kenya universities to boost ICT skills development

IBM East Africa country GM, Anthony Mwai (right) and Strathmore University Director @iLabAfrica Dr Joseph Sevilla (left) exchange the MOU setting the stage for the IBM ICT Innovation Labs project in Strathmore University.
IBM East Africa country GM, Anthony Mwai (right) and Strathmore University Director @iLabAfrica Dr Joseph Sevilla (left) exchange the MOU setting the stage for the IBM ICT Innovation Labs project in Strathmore University.

IBM has announced a partnership with three of Kenyan universities – JKUAT; Stratthmore  and Riara  – to create an advanced educational and training environment in an effort to meet the growing demand for highly skilled IT professionals,

The partnerships will help students develop critical ICT skills in areas such as analytics, cyber security, big data, social business and cloud.

As part of the collaboration, the 3 institutions will have access to the latest enterprise software and systems. Faculty will have no-charge access to an extensive library of IT curricula for computer science, business and other degree programs and be able to participate in ongoing training opportunities. Students will also have access to IBM experts and real-world case studies from a range of industries.

“In the next five years, we expect IT enabled services to contribute 25 percent of the Kenyan GDP. We therefore need to develop massive human resource capacity in ICTs and nurture talented and skilled people to ensure that all Kenyan graduates are ready for the highly technical workplace,” said Dr. Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary of the Kenyan ministry for ICT. “This is the primary reason why we are aggressively partnering with the private sector to improve skills within ICT.”

The IT industry is expected to grow by 11 percent annually in Kenya, creating a need for highly-skilled professionals capable of driving IT innovation and entrepreneurship. By bringing the latest enterprise technology and real-world scenarios into the classroom, students will gain market-ready skills and be better prepared to meet the needs of Kenya’s growing IT market.

“We at Riara University are committed to nurturing innovators whilst inculcating a spirit of excellence, research and human resource development; such partnerships with leading innovators are critical to achieving our vision,” said Prof. Kiarie Mwaura, vice chancellor, Riara University.

With the rapidly evolving technology landscape and increased financial pressures, the ability of universities to quickly respond to shifting market needs is challenging. Public sector-academic partnerships help universities produce graduates who have the right skills at the right time to meet market demands. With today’s news, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Riara University and Strathmore University will have access to technology used in businesses around the world and the resources to put new course modules into place quickly.

As more organizations turn to technology to solve tough business challenges, the need for skilled IT professionals continues to grow in all industries around the world. Strengthening the IT skills base at the university level will help students drive local economic growth and innovation and prepare them to compete in the global IT market.

“This partnership with IBM will help build the next generation of IT business leaders and entrepreneurs by fostering innovation, local application of the latest technological advances and knowledge of industrial best practices. This is in line with Kenya’s development goals as outlined in the Vision 2030 framework,” said Dr George Njenga, deputy vice-chancellor and dean for research at Strathmore University. “This partnership aspires to aid in the development of the relevant skills in the classroom that will rapidly accelerate learning and keep students and scholars at par with the fast-paced growth of the world IT market.”

According to Dr. Muliaro Wafula, the Director for ICT at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, “this collaboration will drive our efforts in offering quality and relevant training, research and innovation in ICT through our Institute of Computer Science and Information Technology.”

“Working with universities is a way to speed up the skills development required for the next generation of experts that companies such as IBM and other international and local enterprises need to enhance and grow the IT sector in Kenya,” said Tony Mwai, IBM general manager for East Africa. “Curriculum development and collaborative research reach a much wider student population.”

This collaboration with three Kenyan universities includes the IBM Global Academic Initiative. Recently, IBM expanded this program to provide faculty with new resources in the areas of cyber security, big data, commerce and mobile computing. There are more than 30,000 global university faculty who use the no-charge resources in the IBM Academic Initiative to help close the IT skills gap. The program endeavors to support universities as they strengthen their educational programs so graduates can compete at the top of any industry.

The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report reveals that only 1 in 10 managers feels his/her organization has the right combination of business and technology skills to be positioned for growth. Meanwhile, nearly half of surveyed educators and students identified a major gap in their institutions’ current ability to teach those skills.



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