IBM to Bring Watson to Africa

IBM has made several headlines this week on different fronts. In Africa, IBM has pledged $100M and 10 years’ worth of work which will go towards implementing the Watson supercomputer in efforts to mine data and provide statistics that can be used to improve the quality of life for those living in Africa. Since Watson is now being run in the cloud, the African continent will begin to have access to world class super computing power without having to build out world class infrastructure.

“In the last decade, Africa has been a tremendous growth story – yet the continent’s challenges, stemming from population growth, water scarcity, disease, low agricultural yield and other factors are impediments to inclusive economic growth” says Kamal Bhattacharya, a director with IBM research in Africa.
In an apparent effort to become more focused on their cloud offerings, IBM has mentioned that they are interested in selling off their semiconductor business. This news isn’t surprising, considering major research firms note a downswing in server and PC hardware sales in the future. IBM hasn’t fully decided if they want to sell the business or simply partner with an existing semiconductor company. IBM has consulted with Goldman Sachs in order to facilitate the sale, should they decide to go through with the transaction. At this time, it is unclear if any existing businesses have expressed interest in IBM’s semiconductor business.
IBM could be trying to free up additional cash flow in efforts to purchase more cloud ventures. If IBM can add a couple billion into its war chest, Big Blue will be better positioned to acquire companies that better help IBM deliver on its vision for a world powered by the cloud. If IBM doesn’t sell, a strategic partnership may also become beneficial as IBM looks for new verticals in which to expand their cloud offerings.