IBM targets $25mn investment in Nigerian, African StartUps

The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is to spend 25 million dollars (about N9 billion) in Nigeria and some other African countries for youth empowerment in the next few years.

Director, IBM Venture Capital Group, Ms Deborah Magid, stated this at the 21st Century Women and Youth in Innovation Technology themed ‘Turning Promises into Action’ held at the UN headquarters in New York.

The event, organised by Silicon-Valley-Nigeria Economic Development in collaboration with Global Connection for  Women Foundation and UN Women, aimed to deepening participation in developmental programmes and technology for sustainable growth.

Magid, who is Director of Software Strategy and represents IBM’s $25 billion software business in Venture Capital Group, said Nigeria is one of the strategic countries for IBM in Africa.

“We are going to spend $25 million just on education for youth to help them have the right skills training for jobs in the future,” she said.

Magid said $25 million investment is just for the youth, and did not include the other IBM’s investment in Nigeria and the region.

According to her, the American multinational information technology company also supports universities to fund research and develop curriculum, including making free software and computers for universities.

“We do have programmes in Nigeria. We have fairly large office in Lagos and smaller office in Abuja and we have a lot of clients in Nigeria and we work throughout West Africa from these offices.

“We have about 120 employees in those offices in Nigerian they do all kinds of work – they work with customers, they do services, they develop technology and they also work with the universities, some of the government ministries.”

Founder/CEO Global Connection for Women, Dr. Lilian Ajayi-Ore, stressed the need for global technology giants to invest in manpower development in Nigeria and across Africa.

“I think the biggest area for these companies to invest is manpower if they intend to reap, and I will speak for Nigeria and part of Africa.

“We are an English country, so in terms of resources, this is an opportunity to employ more of the manpower and it will be cheaper to employ these manpower rather than bringing them from America.

“So I think the Return on Investment for these organisation is that it’s cheaper for them to employ in manpower in Nigeria and other African countries than all the other alternatives.

“We have  manpower in Nigeria and there is limitless opportunities to extend your business to help reach out to communities and to help your company have the global stretch,” she said.

Other speakers at the event were Dr Brenda Akpan, Head of Department, Theatre and Media Studies, University of Calabar; Ms Jennifer Neumaier, Head of LinkedIn Learning Solutions; and Dr Judy Kuriansky from UN Department of Public Information.

The conference was held to meet the mandate of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and the speakers stressed the need to advance the course of youth and women in innovation and technology.