An SAP Laboratory at the CIDA ICT Academy Lyndhurst campus has been opened, and SAP has also donated R500 000.00 in cash to the free university.

Sanjay Poonen, president and corporate officer of the mobile division at SAP, opened the new facility and handed over the cheque, which will go towards construction of a new ICT academy at CIDA, which provides thousands of young graduates with free university education and lends itself to the socio-economic transformation of Africa.

As part of this initiative, 25 young CIDA ICT students are set to benefit from world-class training at the SAP Laboratory in 2012, using SAP BusinessOne software solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

SMEs currently make up almost 80% of SAP’s customer base which equates to more than 86 000 SME customers using SAP technology.

During the unveiling of the SAP Laboratory, Poonen welcomed the students and encouraged them to drive the principle of learning as well as skills transferral. “As a company, we are committed to supporting education and entrepreneurship and I hope that what you learn with SAP, you will find ways to give back to society.”

SAP has been collaborating with the CIDA ICT Academy since 2003 to support under-privileged students and hence providing young entrepreneurs with the skills required to participate in the global ICT business arena and economy.

Poonen says SAP is committed as an organisation to a culture of skills development, social upliftment as well as giving back to the community.  He adds that SAP has identified Africa as a key growth market and will continue to invest in skills development in this developing region.

“The relationship we have with governments and tertiary institutions such as CIDA City Campus is of significant importance to SAP.  We see great opportunity in terms of Africa, and through our investments in institutions like CIDA we are able to tangibly demonstrate our commitment to our customers, partners and community service.”

As a founding member of the academy in partnership with T-Systems, SAP Africa has been a long-standing supporter of the CIDA ICT Academy. In addition to providing free training on BusinessOne software to selected students, SAP also offers financial contribution which is used towards rent, utilities and infrastructure, as well as text books, tuition, exam fees and student lunches.

Since the CIDA ICT Academy’s inception, SAP Africa has invested more than R8-million into the non-profit institution.

Jurgen Koegel, acting-CEO of CIDA says: “Here at CIDA, we not only teach our students to excel in class, we go beyond the boundaries of a lecture room.  Holistic development of a student is what we are all about.  CIDA is a home away from home, a motto that all the students live by.”

In his acceptance speech, Koegel thanked SAP for the sustained support and said that “CIDA was proud of the partnership with SAP and the amazing outputs produced by the ICT academy. This is demonstrated by the high proportion of disadvantaged graduates from the academy who will now be contributors of relevant ICT skills in the economy.”