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IBM sees strong growth in Africa for IT sector

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - International Business Machines said on Thursday it expects Africa to be a strong growth area for the information technology business over the next five years, thanks to growth in banking and telecoms.

IBM, which signed a deal in September to manage Bharti Airtel's IT operations in 16 African countries, has embarked on an expansion program across the continent.

"Industry analysts are predicting a 10 percent growth year-on-year in IT over the next two to five years across Africa ... In east Africa, it's even probably higher than that," Tony Mwai, country general manager for IBM East Africa told Reuters.

"There is a very intense focus on Africa. There are growth opportunities in the banking sector, public sector and telecommunications."

IBM opened a subsidiary office in Tanzania this week, its 20th outlet in Africa as it continues to increase its footprint on the continent.

"We are seeing growth in the financial services sector, certainly in telecommunications because of the explosion of mobile technology and we are seeing growth in the public sector as governments transform to e-government type of operations and delivery of services to citizens," Mwai said.

In Tanzania, IBM has signed a deal with the country's biggest commercial bank, National Microfinance Bank (NMB), to provide technology services.

"The banking sector in Tanzania has seen a complete transformation over the last five years. This transformation has been driven mainly by technology," said John Ncube, NMB's chief information officer.

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by David Cowell)

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