IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems - May 2018 - 48
PHOTO: RIGHT, EYESCAPE CORPORATE PHOTOGRAPHY
The facade of IBM Research Africa in
Johannesburg was inspired by old punch
cards used for programming computers in the
Dr. Solomon Assefa is the director of
IBM Research Africa.
IBM Research is providing valuable insights to tackle challenges and enable
prosperity from the tip of Africa
owntown Johannesburg is baking in the summer heat. The city is often
described as a melting pot, because, as the economic powerhouse of the
continent, it attracts people, skills and investment from all over the world. On
the day that we catch up with Dr. Solomon Assefa, director of IBM Research Africa, the
description is literal. Tar is sticky in the streets.
is a freelance
writer based in
issues for more
than 20 years.
It couldn't be more different
to the clear, cold mountain tops
of Switzerland, where Assefa
will be heading shortly after our
interview to participate in the
annual World Economic Forum.
At the conference, he will talk
about many projects the lab has
undertaken. One favorite is an
application that can analyze
mobile phone usage of unbanked
citizens across Africa, in order to
48 // MAY 2018 ibmsystemsmag.com
provide accurate credit scoring.
Working with local banks,
it's a system that could enable
investment into the small,
entrepreneurial businesses that
are critical to providing jobs. Up
to 60 percent of youth in South
Africa, for example, are unemployed, which is viewed by many
as a root cause of inequality and
"The world has changed a lot
since last year's World Economic
Forum event," Assefa says.
"Last year, the theme was about
technology and governance and
responsibility, but the world has
become much more fractured and
there's more risks of conflict coming up. I hope the discussions will
be about technology and how we
can directly impact the lives of the
bottom 2 or 3 billion people. How
can we be seeds for change?"