SAP Africa, a subsidiary of SAP AG, and the World Bank are moving forward with plans to collaborate on skills development in Africa, the groups announced earlier this month. The move comes shortly after the launch of SAP’s Skills for Africa program, through which the company will train 2,500 students in developing IT skills to boost access to education and support for entrepreneurs, and marks the latest SAP investment in the region.
After announcing the collaboration, SAP Africa CEO Pfungwa Serima attended the Corporate Council on Africa’s 2013 US-Africa Business Summit in Chicago, along with a series of meetings across the U.S. that focused on refining synergies between African operations and the African objectives of the World Bank.
“SAP recognizes that promoting education and training is one of the best ways to improve the problem of chronic youth unemployment, an issue affecting the technology industry as a whole,” Serima said. “With growth and the scarcity of skills on the African continent a prominent issue on our minds, we anticipate that our collaboration with the World Bank will amplify our efforts to develop world-class IT and business skills and give Africa’s youth an opportunity to play a role in contributing towards Africa’s future economic growth and infrastructure development.”
The first phase of the joint skills development initiative is expected to roll out later this year, and a pilot of the Skills for Africa program began in Kenya with 100 students in 2012. Additional SAP investments in the region range from a multilateral partnership to improve Ghana’s shea butter supply chain to working with South Africa’s Standard Bank Group to bring mobile AccessBanking services to people who don’t have a bank account.
“We hope to help amplify Africa’s voice in the global policy debates of our time, particularly as they relate to Africa’s economic and development opportunities,” Serima continued. “Our goal is to help foster the intellectual and research base to aid this growth.”
According to World Bank data, an increasing number of countries in Africa are moving into “middle- income” status, defined as countries achieving more than US$1,000 per capita income. Of Africa’s 54 countries, 22 states with a combined population of 400 million people have officially achieved middle-income status, while 10 countries representing 200 million people will reach middle-income status by 2025 if current growth trends continue. That said, World Bank pinpointed IT skills growth as a key goal moving forward.
“In its global mission to fight extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity, the World Bank recognizes both the value of technology in supporting these goals and the acute need for a skills development initiative to train the next generation of IT professionals,” the World Bank said in a statement.
With growing investments in skills development, SAP will likely remain a driving force in strengthening educational and entrepreneurial capacity across the continent. This latest move not only bolsters that commitment but also brings SAP and World Bank one step closer to their joint goal of ensuring a well-trained African IT workforce.
Image credit: SAP Skills for Africa program via Facebook
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Mary also contributes to Earth911; her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.