BY EMEKA AGINAM
Systems Applications and Products, SAP, yesterday in a world press at the World Trade Centre, Johannesburg, South African announced plans to invest up to $500 million through 2020 to up-skill local African talent and drive sustainable innovation and growth in five African countries.
The African countries that will benefit from the pilot program will include South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Angola and Morocco.
The goal was to establish the African region as one of the company’s top-five growth markets globally. Much of the direct investment will be outside South Africa, where SAP already has a solid footprint.
The investment, according to SAP, is part of its vision of helping make Africa run better and improve the lives of Africans.
This was disclosed yesterday in a world press conference addressed by Robert Enslin, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and president of Global Customer Operations, and Pfungwa Serima, Chief Executive Officer of SAP, Africa.
The new development is part of long-term commitment to regional expansion, sustainable growth and skills development of up to 10,000 IT consultants.
Accordingly, the investment is expected to up-skilling next generation of IT leaders and professionals by training up to 10,000 consultants by 2020 in close collaboration with local governments and universities.
The development, according to SAP was to build on 22 years of experience, commitment and close collaboration with customers, partners, governments and universities throughout the African continent.
Giving details of the investment in the five African countries at the event that attracted capacity audience, Enslin told international Technology Journalists that, “The African market is unique in its growth potential and readiness to innovate.
“The SAP Executive Board strongly believes that now is the right time to take our engagement and commitment to expand in Africa to the next level.
SAP’s additional investment in the continent reflects SAP’s vision to help the world run better by delivering leading-edge innovation.”
In Africa, we plan to engage and invest in even more markets while helping build the appropriate talent base for the IT industry, and support our customers and partners by actively contributing toward crucial technology and business skills-sets and new employment opportunities in Africa.”
According to him, SAP Africa growth plan is built on the following pillars:
*Accelerating industry growth in energy and natural resources, utilities, public sector, financial services and telecommunications in the core countries of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Angola and Morocco.
* Promoting innovation on the continent by accelerating the roll-out of core innovative SAP technology solutions that can help address the enormous resource challenges Africa is facing. Africa is in a unique position to absorb the latest technology innovations, including mobile, cloud and the flagship in-memory platform SAP HANA, as many businesses are not burdened with legacy systems already in place.
* Enhancing small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) growth, which contributes 40 percent to Africa’s GDP, by selecting Kenya as the next market for the company’s Emerging Entrepreneur Initiative, due to the strength and potential of the Kenyan market to grow and support a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
* Building growth and skill development with the launch of additional Skills for Africa Scholarship Programme sessions in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Angola by year end by fostering an open business ecosystem of SAP-qualified consultants to execute on various projects. This follows on the heels of the announcement last year of SAP Africa’s skills development agreement with the World Bank.
With strong believe that African has potentials to leapfrog with innovative technology, the CEO of SAP, Africa explained that, “SAP Africa has more than 20 years of experience successfully operating on the continent.
“SAP Africa is leveraging its established presence and valued ecosystem relationships to immediately commence execution of this plan across the four key pillars that we believe will drive the greatest growth and impact for the continent.”
For Mark Walker, Director: Insights and Vertical Industries, IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey, IDC, this is the time for African government to use technology for economic development.
According to him, “Innovative technologies such as mobility and the cloud are among the fastest growing IT segments and are already having a significant impact on businesses’ ability to grow and innovate.
“We are facing a major turning point where we either embrace the cutting-edge or remain rooted in the past. Solid, forward-looking investment plans will not only dramatically strengthen Africa’s ICT landscape, but also its ability to compete on a global scale.”
Interestingly, with more than 1,300 customers across the continent, SAP is already enabling African businesses and governments of all sizes to grow, scale and globalize, as well as make the transition to a networked, technology-driven innovative economy.
As part of this commitment, SAP Africa is now taking responsibility for SAP operations across 51 African countries, including Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and Mauritania, among others.