SAP’s investment in Meraka Institute generates high-level ICT students


SAP's R50 million investment in skills in SA is showing dividends, says the company's ambassador Les Hayman. “We have invested, for the last few years, quite heavily in the Meraka Institute,” he says.

SAP and Meraka, a division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, last October set up the SAP Meraka Unit for Technology Development. Hayman adds that government matched SAP's investment, “so it is a total of R100 million into this research centre”.

The unit offers masters students a two-year contract and doctoral students a three-year deal. “Last year, we brought in four PhDs and seven Masters students,” Hayman says. “Over the next 12 months, that will double.”

Hayman was speaking ahead of the weekend's meeting of the Presidential International Advisory Council on the Information Society and Development, which focused on progress with skills development.

The SAP ambassador adds that the Meraka facility is tied into the global SAP research network. He says the investment will otherwise “ultimately [have] very little value”.

SAP has research facilities in the US, Europe, Australia and Japan, and “our investment is to make the Meraka Institute part of that global group”.

“That means you create opportunities for young people here to go spend time in this global organisation. It also means the results of their research feeds into the global SAP community. We are not trying to do something that just gets us ‘a tick-in-the-box'. Our expectation is that they will do research into areas that will ultimately benefit SAP and our customer base. I think that's critical…”

SAP Africa University Alliance Programme (UAP) manager Max Fuzani adds that, in addition to the Meraka high-level skills development programme, several local universities have now signed up for this project. They include the universities of Cape Town, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and further away, Mauritius.

Under the UAP, “lecturers at the various universities are teaching students SAP systems that are accessed from Magdeburg and Munich universities [in Germany] and some in the USA. It is the kind of curriculum students elsewhere in the world would be exposed to,” Fuzani adds.

“SAP is a global company, so when the students graduate from the universities, they stand a better chance of getting a job in SA and elsewhere in the world. They are globally competitive,” he says.