Jim Snabe and Pfungwa Serima

Coinciding with Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe’s visit to Johannesburg, SAP today announced the launch of a formal skills development programme in SAP Africa.

The “Skills for Africa” programme is aimed at developing information and communications technology (ICT) skills in Africa as part of SAP’s global mission to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. SAP’s social investment strategy is focused on promoting education and entrepreneurship.

With growth and the scarcity of skills on the African continent top of mind, this programme — described as a first of its kind in the industry in Africa — will offer selected students across the continent the opportunity to develop world-class IT and business skills, effectively giving them an opportunity to play a role in contributing toward Africa’s future economic growth and infrastructure development.

This programme represents the African chapter of SAP’s “EMEA Workforce of the Future” campaign, focused on examining European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) trends, needs and opportunities vital to the successful recruitment, retention and training of the technology industry’s workforce of the future. In support of this effort, several other activities are underway across Europe, most notably the Academy Cube project, which helps students in the EU prepare for “Industry 4.0,” the fourth industrial revolution where products will soon be expected to be able to communicate and act autonomously with one another in intelligently networked production processes.

Along with partners and customers, SAP Africa will drive the Skills for Africa programme around its strategic hubs - South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal, to be followed by ancillary countries such as Ivory Coast and Mauritius. Focusing initially on key industries including public and financial sectors, utilities and oil and gas, the Skills for Africa’s programme aims to create a rich talent pool in Africa for the entire SAP ecosystem. The program is targeted at students who have been identified in collaboration with the government in each of the focus countries.

To support the ambitious rollout of the program, a 56-strong partner base has also been established throughout Africa to maintain momentum. Due to the vast geographical area identified and in the interest of providing the best experience to students and a view to future employment, SAP will be closely aligned with the partner ecosystem in Africa for the rollout to help ensure a successful outcome.

Enabling Skills without Internet Access

Skills for Africa training will comprise a hybrid approach of classroom and e-learning. The unique self-study e-learning environment will allow students to study when and how it suits them without requiring Internet access; a key factor in many of the locations in question. To kick off this phase of the roll-out of the program, SAP Africa today also is launching training kits that include printed course material and a data-encrypted dongle, a USB which is valid for the period of the course duration. In the interests of negating piracy, the dongle will be de-activated automatically after the validity period of the course. The kits will be available in English, French and Portuguese across the relevant countries.

“Securing a highly skilled workforce in Africa is key to ongoing success. Not only is SAP committed to the countries in which it does business; programs of this nature make solid business sense,” said Snabe. “SAP sees huge opportunities for Africa and the multi-million Euro investment into this programme over the next five years is indicative of our commitment. Bearing in mind that the unemployment rate varies from 25.5% in South Africa to almost 48% in Senegal, there is a distinct requirement for business to help develop an appropriate skills base, especially when taking into account the enormous growth opportunity for Africa from an infrastructure perspective.”

SAP says the Skills for Africa programme has been crafted to meet the needs of the complex African skills landscape and to take infrastructure into consideration to ensure ease of use and learning in challenging environments. The pilot phase for the program has been successfully kicked off in Kenya in October of 2012, with over 100 students soon to be trained. Over the next five years, SAP plans to roll out the program to Nigeria, Senegal, Angola and South Africa. The program will target on average 100 students per year, per country, which will result in 2,500 previously unskilled students to be educated in the sought-after SAP skills sphere. A second phase of the rollout is planned to extend to an additional set of countries, including Mauritius and the Ivory Coast.

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