The Kenyan Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology and US-based IBM have joined forces to set up an information technology research lab in Nairobi.

Scheduled to open in the next few weeks, the lab is expected to solve traffic congestion and automate other sectors of governance.

IBM East Africa Kenya general manager Tony Mwai was quoted by Voice of America as saying that many people would love to have the ability to predict how long it’s going to take them to get from one part of the city to the other.

"Or, in real time, get knowledge of where traffic is building up, so you can find an alternate route to get to where you’re going," Mwai added.

The research lab is also expected to help people make better use of public sector services and allow the government to digitally store huge amounts of data.

"The 2011 IBM survey showed that 35% of Nairobi drivers have spent three or more hours in traffic."

The 2011 IBM survey showed that 35% of Nairobi drivers have spent three or more hours in traffic.

Tony Mwai further said the technology may help minimise traffic congestion as building infrastructure is not always possible, while the government of Kenya will invest $10m over the next five years in the project.

The IBM programme director for Technology and Strategy for Research in the Growth Markets Kumar Bhaskaran was quoted by the news agency as saying that the research lab aims to develop solutions for issues in Africa but the benefits will not stop there.

"It’s not simply bringing in technology from outside, it’s also fundamentally having innovations spawned here and applied elsewhere," Bhaskaran added. "Not only in Africa but also impacting outside of Africa."

IBM, which operates in 170 countries, currently has research labs in ten countries, including Kenya.