Harnessing Big Data And IBM Watson To Take On Africa's Grand Challenges

Let me tell you about my new colleague, Abdigani Diriye. He’s what we call a “round tripper,” meaning he was born in Africa, spent many years elsewhere, and now he’s returning. He’s coming back so he can give back.

Abdigani’s is an amazing story. Twenty-five years ago, amid the chaos of Somalia’s civil war, his family fled the country in a rush. He was just five years old. He and his sister escaped to London with a 19-year-old aunt; his father went to Sweden; and his mother made her way through the battle zone to Kenya. Abdigani grew up in the United Kingdom and, ultimately, got a bachelors degree, a masters and a PhD in computer science at the University of London. He’s no slouch in the brains department.

Other new recruits don’t have such dramatic personal histories, but they have something in common with Abdigani: a fierce determination to make a difference in Africa. The goal of our IBM Research Lab – Africa is as ambitious as you can imagine: We’re harnessing advanced technologies to take on seven of Africa’s grand challenges: agriculture, water, energy, education, healthcare, financial inclusion and human mobility.

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