IBM launches Smarter Nairobi Initiative

Multinational technology and consulting corporation IBM has awarded Nairobi a $400,000 grant to help improve the capital’s transport systems and municipal services.

A team comprising IBM consultants and technology specialists will be in Nairobi from 19 April to 10 May to offer recommendations to city and business leaders to support economic growth and encourage more citizen engagement.

Nairobi, whose traffic gridlocks are estimated to cost the Kenyan economy Sh50 million a day, was declared fourth-worst commute in the 2011 IBM Commuter Pain Survey. Almost two thirds of those surveyed in Nairobi complained that traffic negatively affects their work, family and health.

Established last year, the Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city $50 million initiative that provides expert analysis and funds to address urban issues.

Over 140 cities from 40 countries worldwide applied for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant and Nairobi was one of 32 cities to receive it. The only other successful African applicant was the Ghanaian capital, Accra, where IBM has promised to “identify, prioritise and benchmark the key economic, societal and environmental challenges” facing the city in a bid to improve its potential for attracting investment.

Each recipient of the programme will be part of the City Forward website – www.cityforward.org – a public platform created by IBM to enable experts and citizens to interact with data relating to each chosen city.