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Nokia to house IMEA research centre in Nairobi

Finnish communications giant Nokia has announced that Nairobi will be the new home of research and investment centre for the entire India Middle East and Africa (IMEA) region.

The announcement was made by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop at an invite only event at the iHub, a well known tech incubator in Nairobi.

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Prominent blogger and iHub co-founder Erik Hersman broke the story with a tweet:

Kenya is reportedly the first African country Elop has visited in his capacity as Nokia head.

Kenya and Nairobi in particular, is widely recognised as one Africa’s big tech hubs along with South Africa’s Silicon Cape. Elop recognised this, saying that Kenya offers “opportunities for applications and services that fundamentally are about improving people’s lives”, before saying that Nokia needed the help of the developers present to help it adapt its mobile ecosystems to whatever conditions it faces.

“The whole idea” behind the decision to situate the research centre in Nairobi Elop says is the result of Nokia saying “where is the base of excellence, where is the expertise? And what we’ve said is…Kenya is palce where that exists”.

One way that Nokia intends doing this, says Elop, is allowing people to buy paid for apps using operator billing (ie. You can buy an app using just airtime) rather than credit cards.

The announcement comes fresh off the back of news that Nokia would be axing some 4 000 employees in a cost-cutting exercise as it moved more phone assembly plants to Asia.

According to Reuters, the cuts bring the number of jobs lost since Elop took charge of Nokia to 30 000.

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