The drive to get a good education propelled Mamadou Ndiaye ever further from the farming village where he grew up in Senegal–ultimately to New York. His desire to improve the lives of people in Africa brought him back.
Ndiaye, who is IBM’s country manager in Senegal, grew up on a farm in a remote village where his family raised peanuts and corn. His parents sent him to live with relatives so he could attend high school in a city. After getting a B.S. degree in math in Senegal, he moved to New York, where he got masters degrees in statistics from Columbia University, computer science from Polytechnic Institute of NYU and business from Cornell. Then he worked for 12 years for IBM in Poughkeepsie, mostly on System Z–the mainframe.
Ndiaye returned to Africa a year ago, first to Nigeria and then to Senegal. “I thought with my experience in America I had something to give back to Africa. I could make things happen,” he says.
He’s able to blend the ability to work very informally, in keeping with the culture of Africa–where deals are often made over drinks or dinner, with the professionalism and transparency with which he learned to do business in the United States.
IBM is just now ramping up its operations in Senegal. Ndiaye has been there for nine months. But already he has a big deal to show for it: A couple of weeks ago IBM announced a contract to provide the Customs Directorate of Senegal’s Ministry of Finance with two System Z computers to run core customs operations. The IBM business partner in the deal is CFAO Technologies.
The modernization effort involves transforming the ministry’s customs processes, and improving accuracy and efficiency. In addition, it will extend the organization’s reach. Until now, the IT system was used only in the Port of Dakar and Dakar Airport. Now it’s being expanded to include about 30 border crossings. This is a major improvement, since customs fees are a major source of revenue for the government. The new System Z computers insure maximum availability together with data security and energy efficiency.
There haven’t been many official Smarter Planet projects in Africa, but this seems to be developing into one. The system will offer customs officials real-time information about what’s happening all over the country–so they can make decisions quickly. And Ndiaye says government officials are thinking about how to apply analytics to the data so they can spot trends and improve efficiencies. “This is an example for the rest of Africa to show what technology can do for them” he says.
This deal also showcases IBM’s approach to doing business in Africa. He focused on selling the value proposition of the technology, rather than other considerations–and won.