Africa’s youthful demographic and the willingness of African businesses to experiment with solutions could bode well for AI development and application. That is according to Richard Phillips, VP, EMEA channel head at SAP.

Phillips leads the company’s EMEA channel, comprised of 90 countries, including Africa’s technology hubs in the SADC region: Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Speaking on the sidelines of the company’s EMEA AI partner event at the Sophia Antipolis technology park in France, Phillips said one of the more pressing challenges in the global channel is the demand for tech skills and the need to empower the next generation of business leaders. It is here where Africa has a competitive advantage over more mature markets, he believes.

“Africa has a huge pool of young talent, a diverse market segment or Generation Z, the so-called ‘TikTok’ generation who are consumers of applications. They are eager to be challenged, they want to understand technology and be inspired. They can be fully engaged but must believe in the value proposition put to them by companies.”

Asked if SAP could be perceived by these emerging entrepreneurs as old and out of touch with their needs, Phillips said he believes they would evaluate the company as it is now, what it proposes today, and what it stands for going forward.

The company’s goal is to empower the channel with its AI strategy that focuses on AI solutions that are relevant, reliable and responsible. Its approach is to excite channel partners with viable use cases, but not deviate from the message that AI is only as strong, sustainable, and effective as the data that is fed into it.

Phillips added that rather than just fanning the flames of hype around AI and GenAI, the intention is to inform and guide channel partners to address what is clearly much more than a phase of growth in technology. “I’ve been working in the channel for over thirty years, and I am certain that what we have in AI is a game-changer, something that will change everything we do into the future,” he said.

SAP’s short-to-medium objective is to engage the channel, demonstrate its AI and GenAI value proposition, its solutions portfolio, and excite as many businesses as possible to choose to onboard with SAP.

The IDC predicts that by 2025, Global 2000 organisations (a Forbes list which ranks global companies according to sales, profits, assets, and market value) will set aside over 40% of their core IT spend for AI-related initiatives.

But there are hurdles, and Phillips highlighted reliable and sustainable infrastructure and connectivity, as well as the growing concern over data protection.

He acknowledged the importance of regulations like Europe’s GDPR and South Africa’s POPIA legislation, and that governments in Africa are key to helping create and maintain environments that are conducive to good business and investment.

This article first appeared in ITWeb.