Representatives from SAP are today participating in a panel discussion on Africa at the annual meeting of the African Development Bank in Rwanda. The theme of the discussion will focus on entrepreneurship and job growth, SMEs and fostering innovation in Africa, with SAP elaborating on the strong stories it has to tell on each of these areas of focus. Other panellists include – amongst others – the Ministers of Finance from Uganda, Mali and Zambia.
In particular, the panel will focus on entrepreneurship and job growth within the small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and using innovation to aid and enable the development of such SMEs in the East Africa Region.
“This panel discussion ties in with the Starter Africa programme, which has been designed to address three pillars, namely:
1. Capacity building of entrepreneurs;
2. Visibility or promotion of six selected candidates; and
3. Promotion 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.
“It’s no secret; there is an unbelievably high unemployment rate across the continent,” said Alexander Meyer, Vice President, Global Business Development at SAP, who will be leading the conversation, and expanded on these statistics: 48% in Senegal, 42% in Kenya, 25% in South Africa and 24% in Nigeria. “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%. 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.”
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.
As part of its Skills for Africa campaign, SAP works with key ICT institutions to cultivate a collaborative ICT Skills Training initiative that leverages leading public and private sector players to accelerate the region’s growth, delivering good ICT jobs, contributing to investment in and growth of the private ICT sector, and making possible delivery of more efficient and transparent public services. SAP is making a substantial commitment of resources including financial, curricula, ICT sector expertise, and knowledge of public and private sector skills needs to build a technology-driven Africa.
And, in October last year, SAP and the World Bank signed an MOU, which sees the two entities jointly promoting skills training that is linked to jobs. This initiative will target populations typically underrepresented in the IT sector such as women and the rural poor.
As one of the most important drivers of growth in economies across Sub Saharan Africa, accounting for up to 90% of all businesses in these markets, the SME is a key focus area for the company.
“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,” said Meyer. 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.
“Effective innovation for Africa must be developed in Africa, preferably by Africans,” said Meyer. “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.”