AI Transforming the Developing World

Solomon Assefa, IBM Research

Solomon Assefa shares an update from IBM's labs in Kenya and South Africa, including progress in using AI to help local farmers succeed in expanding their yields.

Solomon Assefa, Vice President, Africa and Emerging Market Solutions, IBM Research

Dr. Solomon Assefa is responsible for developing strategy for innovative and scalable industry research solutions for emerging markets in sectors such as financial services, health care, and the public sector. Furthermore, he is responsible for IBM’s research labs in Kenya and South Africa, and heads IBM’s research strategy and partnership across the region. IBM Research is pioneering disruptive technologies that will transform industries and society, including the future of AI, blockchain, and quantum computing. Specifically, it is developing technologies that address Africa’s grand challenges; promote Africa’s leadership in science and technology; and foster local innovation ecosystems.

Solomon is a recipient of several awards, including the Technical Accomplishment Award, Corporate Recognition Award, and Invention Achievement Awards from IBM. He is a frequent speaker at business events, international conferences, universities, and research institutions. He was named one of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 in 2011. Solomon was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2013. He received a BS in physics (2001), a BS in EECS (2001), an MS in EECS (2001), and a PhD (2004), all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Intelligent Machines
Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Innovators Under 35
individuals whose superb technical work promises to shape the coming decades through the development of new technology or the creative application of existing technologies to solve problems.

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