IBM has been doing business in Senegal for more than 60 years, but today it opened a new subsidiary office there to take its business in the country to the next level. With the establishment of a local business infrastructure, IBMers on the ground can begin to develop Smarter Planet solutions in the country–working with local government and business leaders.
This is the kind of evolution that IBM’s outposts in growth markets are going through now. It’s a significant first step forward, because while technologies that make the world work better are important everywhere, they’re absolutely crucial in growth markets.
Mamadou Ndiaye, the IBM country general manager based in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, sees a recent deal to sell two mainframe computers to Senegal’s Ministry of Finance as the foot in the door for Smarter Planet-style engagements. The system will allow Senegal’s customs agents to track the flow of trade at the country’s 30 border crossings in real time–assuring that the correct duty has been paid on shipments coming into the country. A next step, he says, could be to add more intelligence to the system. Analytics software could make it possible to spot flaws and inefficiencies. “They would be able to improve the way they gather information, and know what’s useful information and what isn’t useful,” he says.
Some of the biggest targets for Smarter Planet solutions in Senegal are health care and the electric grid, says Ndiaye. Not surprisingly, health care delivery organizations there are still keeping patient records manually. So there’s an opportunity to leapfrog mature countries and go straight to electronic medical records. That’s the key to having health care data that’s analyzable and easy to share between different hospitals and departments, enabling doctors to make better decisions. Building super-efficient electric grids that also enable businesses and individuals to monitor and manage their power consumption will be vital for furthering economic development.
These are early days for the Smarter Planet approach in Senegal–but there’s a will to make progress, which makes it more likely that progress will be made.