Public policy

IBM is committed to making a positive and meaningful impact on the countries and communities in which we do business. We regularly contribute our expertise on public-policy issues ranging from security and privacy in a digital world to growth strategies for a global economy. In doing this we collaborate with lawmakers, regulators, public officials and civic leaders around the world.

Several years ago IBM began a major expansion of its business in Africa and in 2014 announced an investment of $100 million in South Africa, to be made over a period of 10 years. The investment is known as an Equity Equivalency Investment Program (EEIP) and is part of IBM’s contributions to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, an initiative of the South African government aimed at promoting economic transformation to enable meaningful participation of disadvantaged people in the economy.

The EEIP represents a first-of-its-kind integration of academics, enterprise development and research into a holistic program. Investments are intended to provide a vehicle for advancing science and technology by developing critical information and communications technology (ICT) skills in new, disruptive technologies such as cloud, big data and analytics, mobile, social business and security. The goal is to build a cadre of next-generation entrepreneurs in these disciplines and foster innovation essential for South Africa’s economic growth and digital competitiveness. IBM is partnering with University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on this project.

The EEIP is comprised of three initiatives:

  • Enterprise Development Program (EDP)

    EDP is focused on developing black-owned and black-women-owned businesses with an emphasis on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and South African youth. The goal of the program is to help facilitate development and provide opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, SMEs or mature enterprises looking to acquire new skills and capabilities.

  • Academic program

    IBM will work with University of the Witwatersrand to help provide funding and curriculum development that can be used with students at various levels, from undergraduate and bachelor's degrees in ICT and engineering through master's and Ph.D. candidates.

  • New IBM Research — Africa Lab

    The new IBM Research — Africa Lab will focus on pressing business and societal challenges that can be best addressed through advanced information technologies such as big data, cloud, and mobile to help support South Africa's national priorities, drive skills development in science and technology, and foster innovation-based growth. We plan for researchers to work with local universities, research institutions, innovation centers, start-ups and government agencies to help bolster South Africa's emerging innovation ecosystem and develop next-generation technology skills.

    The new lab will be located in an inner-city area of Johannesburg, which will allow researchers to explore the role of advanced digital technologies and big-data analytics in urban renewal. They will also look at helping to improve health care in resource-constrained environments in South Africa and across the continent.