Speaking to IGIHE recently, Neelam Sandhu, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Sustainability at BlackBerry, disclosed that ’Rwanda is making remarkable strides in ensuring it has a strong pipeline of talent across Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths [STEM] categories’ aligning with the company’s ethos.
"For many decades, we have led and shaped the market and intend to have many followers in the tech industry in those spaces with our most recently developed AI cybersecurity," she added.
BlackBerry intends to collaborate closely with universities and other educational institutions in Rwanda to help train and educate students through scholarship programs, co-op programs, joint research projects, among other initiatives.
"I would encourage students to learn and educate themselves on BlackBerry solutions across the IoT and the cybersecurity portfolios that we offer. As AI becomes a much more prevalent technology, students could learn a lot from understanding how BlackBerry is innovating in these areas as we intend to bring some of those partnerships for STEM talent into the market," she said.
Since its founding in 1984, BlackBerry has focused on building security within its products by design, which they term as a ’very unique strategy’ that makes their products among the most secure in the market. According to Neelam, user privacy is paramount to BlackBerry, which is why they invest 32% of their annual revenues into research and development, primarily focused on security with privacy as a core layer.
BlackBerry has been in the market for 40 years, producing products like the BlackBerry 850 in 1999, BlackBerry 5810 launched in 2002, BlackBerry 6710 also launched in 2002, BlackBerry 6210 launched in 2003, among others. Presently, the newest BlackBerry product is the ’BlackBerry Ivy,’ designed to facilitate secure data exchange in smart cities, enhancing user experiences. Additionally, the product comes with an innovation fund that startups can apply to.
BlackBerry’s new technology is not only designed to stay ahead of cyber threat attackers but is also environmentally friendly. Since 2021, the company has been carbon neutral. Furthermore, the connectivity it provides is reliable, functioning in a hyper-connected environment and available to everyone. BlackBerry partners with healthcare providers to connect their endpoints by offering secure software that powers pacemakers, IV pumps, and more. The company also collaborates closely with the world’s largest banks, law firms, industries, and 17 governments out of the G20 governments to provide security.
Over the years, despite increased cybersecurity attacks, none of BlackBerry’s customers have been breached through an endpoint powered by their software, which Neelam describes as a success story in today’s climate.
"It all comes down to trust. Since we were a hardware company (smartphones) and now we have evolved into a software company, the customer’s love for the brand and trust has not waned, and those trusted relationships are easy to reignite in this market," she emphasized.
BlackBerry was among the many companies that participated in the recently concluded CyberTech Africa summit held in Kigali. To date, the company is a ’pure’ play software company with two business units in IoT and Cybersecurity.
According to Neelam, the IoT business unit is focused on bringing a hyper-connected ecosystem to fruition with its extreme reliability, safety, and security. The cybersecurity business unit, on the other hand, serves the enterprise IT market by offering secure communication solutions for networks, data, communications, and all types of endpoints, whether mobile devices, desktop devices, or IoT endpoints.
"Humans have an inherent need to connect, and that connectivity must be both secure and private for it to be sustainable. Our vision is to converge both units, from a sustainability perspective, to create a trusted hyper-connected ecosystem as our future reality," she stated.