SAP Africa drives continent's innovation agenda

By Bizclik Editor

 Leading software solutions provider SAP is to showcase the efforts it is making top reach its goal of training 3,000 students for ICT employment in Africa over the next five years and helping SMEs to foster innovation in their growth and development.

Company representatives were today due to participate in a panel discussion focusing on entrepreneurship and job growth, SMES and fostering innovation at the annual meeting of the African Development Bank in Rwanda.

Alexander Meyer, Vice President, Global Business Development at SAP, said: “It’s no secret; there is an unbelievably high unemployment rate across the continent.

 “The 500 million Africans currently of working age are projected to exceed 1.1 billion by 2040, more than India or China,” he said.

 “Over the past decade, the IT sector has proven to be the major economic driver in sub-Saharan Africa, with an annual compounded growth rate of 40 percent.

“This is because it is a cross-cutting tool that enables sectors as diverse as agriculture, healthcare, power, water and governance. However, while a critical driver for growth, there is a universal shortage of skilled IT workers - and SAP Africa is going to change this.”

The panel discussion ties in with the Starter Africa programme, which has been designed to address three pillars, namely:Capacity building of entrepreneurs;Visibility or promotion of six selected candidates; andPromotion of entrepreneurship via the Starter Tour.

The programme will follow six new “starters”, candidates via a TV series on VoxAfrica TV, which will enable viewers to watch and learn as these candidates are coached and mentored by business leaders.

It is the hope that these shows will serve to inspire other entrepreneurs and SMEs across the region.

 Through focus, collaboration and commitment from partners, to support the African Development Bank’s vision, SAP intends to train 3 000 students for ICT employment in Africa over the next five years, contributing closing the current and projected unemployment gap.

With extensive experience in creating technology solutions that have helped many young students and entrepreneurs across Africa, and a focussed investment in supporting SME growth in Africa, SAP Africa is eager to continue partnering with international funding institutions on the continent.

 A case in point is the recent Skills for Africa partnership with the World Bank, which sees SAP and the World Bank jointly promoting skills training linked to real jobs.

 Meyer said: “More than 80 per cent of SAP’s 176,000 global customers are SMEs, 90 per cent of which are in the lower middle and small enterprise markets.

“Business software solutions are invaluable tools to help SMEs remain lean and efficient companies while supporting business growth with quick and accurate decision making and SAP is introducing alternative business software deployment, packaging and licensing options such as software-as-a-service, cloud computing and pre-built applications to guide them in their growth.

He concluded: “Effective innovation for Africa must be developed in Africa, preferably by Africans.

 “SAP’s research centre in Pretoria, its growing ecosystem of local SME partners, distributors and clients, and its collaboration with key universities, have created an ecosystem of shared innovation that will bring about tangible change in Africa.”

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