Frank Cohen is the President of SAP for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He was in Nigeria recently to evangelize potentials of SAP African Code Week aimed to train kids on software coding. According to him, SAP in the initiative will train 20,000 youths across eleven countries in Africa by the end of the programme.
African Code Week:
African Code week is a big initiative of SAP launched for for Africa and SAP as an organization realized early that there is skill shortage in Africa and that for children to be able to compete in future global economy, they need to have a basic knowledge of computing, because anywhere you look now, you have codes.
Those we are targeting are between the ages of 9 and 24 because we want to catch them young and provide them with basic life skills.
Currently, the population of African youths between the ages of 15 and 25 is 200 million and this will double to 400 million by 2045. Africa has the largest youth population in the whole world.
We realized this and decided to tackle it headlong. This prompted us to launch the African Code Week to train kids on coding, which is the main objective of the African Code Week. We want to train 20,000 youths across 11 countries in Africa by the end of the programme. The pilot program was in South Africa.
Equipping schools with Computer Lab
This is just the beginning. I will say to you on a note of caution that it is practically impossible for SAP to be able to provide laptops for every student in Nigeria. We are only evangelists. We saw that there was a gap and saw a need to plug that gap, and we expect other well-meaning organisations to join in the movement. This is just the beginning, we will also expect the government to see this initiative as a ground breaking one that point to a gap that needs to be filled.
Investment in African Code week
It is a lot of money. The pilot in South Africa was massive and to put this together as you see it here is a lot of money. We are catering for the kids, we are giving them resources, we are creating an open platform for them to use, and we will train the teachers and the kids. We have done so much and a lot of money has gone into this. Also, SAP employees have volunteered their time for this code week. So, we are using our resources to drive this programme.
Number of schools in Nigeria to benefit
What we will be doing after the pilot is to scale out. On sustenance, we have created an online course free of charge for teachers and kids. Everybody and anybody can go online and do the course free of charge. This is a lot of investment on behalf of SAP.
Effect of digital revolution in Africa
I think there is no doubt that this world is becoming digital. Every day, we see news that cars will not need drivers any-more by 2025. I think it is absolutely great that Africa is participating in this digital revolution because this is where the world is going.
The current situation is that people with technical know how are coming from other continent to take jobs in Africa, while we have Africans who are jobless. We don’t need to ask people from Europe or India to come and do the job. So Code Week is a very nice thing. Our estimation is that 5 years from now, we will need additional 35,000 centres in Africa just to do the work effectively.
Lessons from pilot programme in South Africa
The pilot in South Africa was well-embraced. With coding, you don’t lose anything, you gain everything. In South Africa, they embraced the programme. If the pilot wasn’t successful, we won’t be here today.
Where do you go from here?
Where we go from here is that the main event happens first in 10th October,2015 And secondly, we have already created an online platform where you can log on to get coding skills. In October, we will roll this programme across 11 countries.
SAP’s strategic directions for Africa
Our SME development programme is a key pillar, the code week is another pillar. Even as we do our business, we are also recruiting Nigerian organizations to be our partners.