Digital Skills Development and Smart City Aspirations Create EPIC Success

“Cities are challenged to better serve their citizens through innovative technology. Through SAP Skills for Africa’s partnership with the City of Cape Town, we have illustrated the combined power of young professional enablement and SAP technologies to realise a grand vision for building a thriving city,” said Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa on the graduation of 21 participants of the most recent Skills for Africa program in Cape Town.

SAP Skills for Africa enables young aspiring African tech talents to find their way into formal employment by putting them through a unique program that combines the latest SAP training and certification with soft and future-ready skills. SAP’s customers and partners also gain access to candidates with work-ready SAP skills, thereby benefiting the SAP ecosystem, the candidates who find sustainable employment, and the countries who are battling youth unemployment.

Skills for Africa graduate shines in role

Not long into his university studies, Muhammad Fakier discovered that he wanted to pursue a career in technology. After completing a BA degree in Industrial Psychology, he entered a post-graduate qualification in business analysis at FTI to gain some IT-related skills. This is where he saw an advertisement for SAP Skills for Africa, asking for candidates to sign up to its South African program.

“It can be very difficult for a new graduate to break into the job market. I took a leap of faith, applied to Skills for Africa and was chosen for the program,” said Muhammad. “The difference between Skills for Africa and university was stark; I quickly realised how much I still needed to learn. Luckily, the open culture and close bonds built with fellow classmates meant there was a strong support structure in place. Aside from the technical knowledge we gained, the program also equipped us with soft skills that eased the transition into the world of work.”

Muhammad applied for a placement at the City of Cape Town. “I became an intern and obtained my first SAP certification, in IS-Utilities. On my first day, I was called into a meeting room and was told that I’d be part of a special project called EPIC, which would be built on the latest SAP HANA technology. This was where I learned most of my skills.”

An EPIC success

The City of Cape Town’s Emergency Policing and Incident Command (EPIC) program went live in 2016 and was the first of its kind in South Africa. It provides a centralised emergency control platform for the preparation, mitigation, response and quick, successful resolution of all public safety incidents in Cape Town.

Dawn Msibi, Manager: ERP Support Centre at the City of Cape Town, said EPIC processes on average 1500-2000 incidents per day, which are dispatched to various emergency command centres depending on the nature of the incident. “The platform supports the City’s broader incident response efforts regarding disaster risk management, fire and rescue services, law enforcement, traffic services, metro police, public emergency communications centre and social development.”

She added that EPIC was designed to ease the delivery of key services to Cape Town citizens. “Cape Town is one of Africa’s biggest metros, and provides services to four million citizens, more than 60 000 businesses and five million tourists every year. EPIC enables the City to take every incoming call to ensure life-threatening issues are reported and the correct services are dispatched to each incident while providing full visibility of deployed resources. A comprehensive reporting capability provides real-time access to accurate incident data that inform broader City planning and response strategies. ”

EPIC is supported by a dedicated team of SAP specialists working from the City of Cape Town’s head office. For Muhammad Fakier, being part of that team has been not only been career-changing, but also life-changing. The City of Cape Town has the largest number of active SAP modules of any organisation on the African continent. For Muhammad, this created an incredible learning opportunity. “I was exposed to a massive IT landscape that included geospatial information services, telecoms, and mobility. After acquiring my second SAP certification in customer relationship management, I joined the SAP business intelligence team permanently as a Junior Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Analyst. We developed a proof of concept of EPIC using SAP Cloud Analytics, HANA modelling and Business Objects. Today, I’m one of the youngest ever Senior ERP Analysts, with a solid grounding in some of SAP’s most powerful technology solutions.”

Muhammad wants other aspiring graduates to know how powerful technology can be in not only shaping businesses and industries, but careers and lives as well. “Working for the City of Cape Town has made me aware of the impact we can have. Making even a small improvement in how services are provided can have a major impact on millions of lives. SAP Skills for Africa can open a window of endless opportunity. With the right attitude, and a desire to never stop learning, you can build any kind of future you want for yourself.”

“In this digital age, constantly learning new, practical technology skills is a prerequisite to building a successful and meaningful career. The South African government’s recent announcement that coding will be added to school curricula confirms the importance of equipping our youth with hands-on technology skills to become active participants in the new digital economy. Skills for Africa forms part of our efforts to support digital skills development among the country’s young university graduates. We are excited to see how this year’s graduates make an impact, and hope to inspire many more youths, like Muhammad Fakier, to apply the latest SAP technologies to solve real-world problems,” added Cathy Smith.

About SAP Skills for Africa

The Cape Town SAP Skills for Africa class of 2019, split into two groups, was a ‘first of its kind’ incorporating cloud-specific modules which focused on SAP Activate Project Management and SAP S/4HANA Sourcing & Procurement for group one and SAP BusinessObjects Web and SAP BO BI Platform 4.2 for group two. Taking place over the course of three to four months and using a hybrid approach of classroom and e-learning training, with hands-on simulated exercises, participants have now secured employment with: City of Cape Town, Bi Tech, Oceana Group, Pick n Pay and Sanlam. The program, under the umbrella of the SAP Training & Development Institute, is part of SAP’s ongoing commitment to close the digital skills gap and runs beyond Africa, in a total of 22 countries across the globe, as SAP’s Young Professional Program. More than 2,200 formerly unemployed candidates have graduated from the program since 2013 and have been placed in the SAP customer and partner ecosystem after graduation. The SAP Skills for Africa initiative will continue its legacy in South Africa.

“Initiatives like these, built on the foundation of public-private partnerships, are more important than ever before with youth unemployment still posing a serious threat for the successful development of economies across the globe and in Africa. The Skills for Africa Program was created on the foundation of a highly unique collaborative effort, wherein we have always worked closely with SAP customers, partners, peers and other stakeholders such as universities and government organizations to deliver our programs successfully and create a quadruple-win situation. I’m pleased to see the massive impact of this program in South Africa, demonstrated through the great success of the partnership with City of Cape Town and other organizations who hired our talents. Many organizations have continuously supported us in our efforts to jointly enable and empower African youth and have seen great success with hiring talents from our programs,” said Marita Mitschein, Managing Director of the SAP Training & Development Institute and Senior Vice President Digital Skills at SAP South Europe, Africa and Middle East, who launched the program back in 2013.