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IBM solicits ideas for Africa

Company's ThinkPlace collaboration tool offered to public for brainstorming on ways to improve Africa's economy.

IBM is soliciting good ideas for solving problems in Africa. To do that, it's offering a public version of ThinkPlace, its internal, employee-collaboration software that allows people to post, share and discuss ideas. As part of its three-week "ThinkPlace Challenge," IBM wants people from around the world to submit suggestions on how it and other companies can partner with African governments, universities and local businesses to improve the economy and, subsequently, the lives of Africans.

The top ideas garnered from the online brainstorming session will then be incorporated into the agenda for IBM's Global Innovation Outlook (GIO), a summit for business, academic and political leaders who will discuss technology and development opportunities for Africa. As a starting point, IBM has already posed several questions on topics such as developing programs for water, energy, communications, micro-financing and IT infrastructure. Those looking to contribute can download the Web application, which works on Internet Explorer and Firefox Web browsers, from IBM's ThinkPlace Web site.