We reported just last month about the new porting lab that RIM had opened here in the UK which I popped along to check out. As I said then, they were planning to open further app labs in other countries and today sees the grand opening of the second BlackBerry apps lab in South Africa.

Although we now know that RIM is to officially announce BlackBerry 10 at the end of January, this new lab in South Africa isn't just about the new platform. With BlackBerry 7 doing so well in the region the lab is just as much about helping devs get apps up and running on BB7 as well as the PlayBook OS. Clearly BB10 support will be there too but with BB7 devices doing so well in Africa that may well be where they money is to be made in the near future for developers?

Nice job RIM - keep it up! You can catch the full press release below.

Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry® smartphones and BlackBerry® PlayBookTM tablets today announced the opening of its second BlackBerry® apps lab in South Africa. The new lab is based in Cape Town and follows on the launch of the BlackBerry apps lab at the University of Pretoria (UP), a BlackBerry Authorised Academic Centre, in May this year.

"Cape Town is a key innovation hub, and a natural site for RIM's second BlackBerry apps lab in South Africa," said Alexandra Zagury, MD for South Africa and Southern Africa at RIM. "We are now looking forward to fostering mobile innovation in the Western Cape and helping to grow South Africa's next wave of mobile app developers. Our investment in this lab is a signal of our commitment to supporting South Africa's thriving BlackBerry developer ecosystem."

The aim of the BlackBerry apps labs is to help accelerate mobile application development in South Africa, thereby creating new economic opportunities and jobs in the mobile space, and to support the larger context and objectives of the South African Department of Communications' (DOC) eSkills Institute. The labs provide local developers, including students, start-ups, entrepreneurs and others, with access to resources in development, marketing, sales and training to help them expand their ideas and business opportunities.

According to Blessing Mahlalela, a student at UP and a developer, the BlackBerry apps lab is every developer's dream. "RIM has eliminated the cost that my startup company would have incurred by providing resources such as the latest BlackBerry devices for testing and high performance development machines," said Mahlalela. Fellow UP student, Leon van Dyk added, "My programming abilities for the BlackBerry platform have increased monumentally - and so has my interests in mobile development as a career choice."

RIM will work with developers at the Cape Town lab to create local and regionally relevant applications for BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry PlayBook, as well as for devices running the upcoming BlackBerry® 10 platform. The initiative is expected to help create locally relevant apps, new skills and job opportunities for graduates, and new revenue streams for developers.

The BlackBerry apps labs form part of RIM's extensive developer programme that spans Africa and includes facilities in key innovation hubs in Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt. RIM has been working with 118 universities, colleges and schools across Africa through the BlackBerry Academic Program to provide institutions with course materials and content to teach and educate students on mobile application development.