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A New Generation of Innovators for Africa

October 2, 2015 by Bill McDermott 136

The idea of helping the world run better and improving people’s lives is as much about what we do today as it is about how we empower tomorrow. In no place is this more true than across the African continent, where over 10 days hundreds of activities will be organized to help 20,000 young people learn the basics of writing code.

Think about this – there are more than 8 billion computing devices in the world, but only 50 million people who actually know how to program and interact with those devices. Africa Code Week is a significant opportunity to overturn that imbalance. But more than just giving future developers the ability to be technological innovators, we’re giving young people the tools to fulfill their own dreams.

The World Economic Forum estimates that over the next 25 years, the working age population in Africa will double to more than one billion people. It’s an incredible figure and even outpaces what’s expected in places like China and India. Africa’s infrastructure isn’t yet ready to absorb what could be explosive economic growth. To those entities who step up – governments, businesses and not-for-profits – this is more than just the chance to be part of one of the world’s next major growth markets, it’s a chance to bring hundreds of millions of people and their families into the modern economy.

Many programs and efforts are underway across Africa. Coding holds a special place for SAP and the technology industry. It’s in our best interest as a global business and employer to see a new generation of talent rise across Africa. Make no mistake, in the 21st century every business is a digital business. By sending professional developers to places like Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria to work with young people, we are teaching the new language of modern business to the workforce who will shape this new era of growth.

The good work does not end when Africa Code Week finishes on October 10. Learning platforms have been established, such as openSAP, to deliver free courses so that people can continue their education and boost their IT proficiency. I encourage every business to seek out creative ways to ensure we can keep the momentum.

I have been blessed to meet many people over the years who call Africa home. They are eager to improve their communities, countries, continent, and ultimately change our world. Their pride and ambition has inspired me. If ever a region was ready to seize opportunity, it’s Africa. I believe that Africa has a remarkable young generation and initiatives like Africa Code Week gives us an opportunity to marvel at what the future holds. But we have to support these initiatives, publicize them and aggressively plan more like them.

It’s true that today less than 1 percent of African children leave school with basic coding skills. I’m confident that figure is about to rise dramatically, just as Africa prepares to claim its rightful place as a soaring economic power in this new digital economy.

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