IBM targeting Africa’s banks for new business

US-based technology firm IBM has significantly expanded its African footprint over the past three years. The company has opened more than 20 new African offices in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.

IBM is especially targeting Africa’s banking sector. In Kenya alone, IBM recently closed five deals with local banks.

“Over the last six months, IBM has signed contracts with five of Kenya’s leading banks: Credit Bank, Co-operative Bank, Family Bank, National Bank of Kenya and National Industrial Credit (NIC) Bank. The agreements are amongst more than 20 similar deals that IBM has signed with banks across Africa in 2011, in line with the rapid growth of the financial services sector and as technology enables a wave of innovation in African banking,” said the company in a statement.

  • IBM supplied Co-Operative Bank with power systems as well as storage and software as part of a major overhaul of the bank’s systems.
  • In its agreement with the National Bank of Kenya, IBM is providing IT services, hardware and software.
  • Family Bank and IBM have signed an agreement to support the bank’s drive to reach fresh markets and launch new products and services. The bank’s regional expansion plan, alongside its introduction of new services such as mobile banking and mortgage facilities, has led the firm to transform its IT systems ahead of a planned listing on the Nairobi Stock Exchange in 2012.
  • Credit Bank has turned to IBM for a new core banking system to allow the bank to rethink business processes and improve operational efficiency. Under the terms of the agreement, IBM will provide hardware, software as well as consultancy and services for the implementation, integration and maintenance of the new system.
  • NIC Bank selected IBM technologies to help streamline the bank’s processes and integrate its existing IT solutions to drive operational efficiencies and improve customer service.

It is estimated that the continent’s financial services industry is currently worth over US$100 billion and will continue to experience double digit growth over the next decade. Retail banking is the fastest growing segment, expected to grow at 18% annually between 2009 and 2020 as demand for deposit accounts and more sophisticated products increases amid urbanisation.

IBM is also tapping into the growth of mobile banking in Africa. The technology giant is helping Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom to provide its M-Pesa mobile money services to over 15 million customers.

“Africa is currently experiencing strong uptake in banking services in line with the growth of the continent’s middle class and the adoption of mobile and internet banking,” said Anthony Mwai, general manager of IBM East Africa. “Advanced technologies are helping to drive a wave of innovation across the African financial services sector as banks create new and accessible banking channels and take banking services to previously unbanked parts of society.”

By 2015, IBM expects that up to 30% of its global revenue will be from emerging markets like Africa.