IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe - July/August 2018 - 10
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 early 1900s.
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 caught up with Dr. Solomon Assefa, director of IBM Research
Africa, the description was literal. Tar was 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
headed shortly after our interview to participate in the annual
World Economic Forum. At the
conference, he talked about many
projects the lab has undertaken.
One favorite is an application
10 // JULY/AUGUST 2018 ibmsystemsmag.com
that can analyze mobile phone
usage of unbanked citizens across
Africa, in order to 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