IBM eyes emerging IT in Africa, inks deal in Ethiopia

IBM continues building its presence in Africa with a $3 million deal with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia to modernize and expand its IT infrastructure.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

IBM on Wednesday said it has signed a $3 million deal with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, the country's largest, to modernize and expand its IT infrastructure.

Big Blue will provide hardware, software and services to support the bank in transitioning from manual financial processes augmented by HP and Sun infrastructure to real-time services.

The bank hopes that the IT upgrade, as well as plans to open 500 new branches and roll out 200 new ATMs, will help it boost its number of accounts by 25 percent annually. (It currently counts 372 branches in its portfolio.)

On the back end, the upgrade will help the bank integrate more closely with credit card providers such as Visa and Mastercard. It will also pave the way for better mobile and Internet banking services, essential banking tolls in the 21st century.

Details on the revamp:

  • Power Systems and System Storage DS8800 disk storage system
  • Tivoli and WebSphere software
  • Estimated performance boost: 50 percent
  • Estimated energy savings: 50 percent
  • Estimated cost reductions: 40 percent
  • Operational by August

Thanks to its size, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia is known for leading the industry in its home country; for example, it was the first bank in Ethiopia to introduce ATMs in 2003, as well as among the first to offer Visa cards in 2010.

The deal is the latest in a string for IBM, which is trying to build up business on the African continent. Previously, it inked IT deals with the National Microfinance Bank of Tanzania, three banks in Nigeria, First National Bank in Namibia and government finance agencies in Senegal and Cameroon.

To date, the company has a presence in 20 of the 54 African nations.

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