Johannesburg — SYSTEMS Applications Products (SAP), the German multinational software corporation, reiterated its commitment to promoting the growth of small and medium enterprises as well as addressing youth unemployment in the continent.
Senior officials of the firm are participating at the ongoing the annual meeting of the African Development Bank in Rwanda.
A panel during the event focused on entrepreneurship and job growth, SMEs and fostering innovation in Africa.
“It’s no secret; there is an unbelievably high unemployment rate across the continent,” said Alexander Meyer, Vice President, Global Business Development at SAP.
“The 500 million Africans currently of working age are projected to exceed 1.1 billion by 2040, more than India or China. 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,” Meyer said.
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.
Meyer said as one of the most important drivers of growth in economies across Sub Saharan Africa, accounting for up to 90 percent of all businesses in these markets, the SME is a key focus area for the company.
More than 80 percent of SAP’s 176 000 global customers are SMEs, 90 percent 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, he said.
Meyer said SAP was 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.
“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,” said Meyer.