The Enterprise Systems Education For Africa (ESEFA)

The Enterprise Systems Education For Africa (ESEFA) three year project phase – which aims to develop an Enterprise Systems (ES) education platform, curriculum and community for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – kicked off in September 2013 in a ground-breaking partnership between the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Department of Information Systems in the Faculty of Commerce, the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg (OVGU) in Germany and market leader SAP with its SAP University Alliances programme.

The project is co-financed by DEG (Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH) with public funds from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, together with SAP.

The objective of the PPP-Project (Public Private Partnership-Project) is to establish an on-demand Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) teaching and learning platform for (Sub-Saharan) Africa which is scalable and maintained independently from Africa. To achieve this objective extensive capacity building measures will be carried out and a comprehensive toolset that allows blended learning (i.e. teaching can take place in many different ways and by using a variety of online and offline teaching methods) will be developed and implemented.

The project team is developing a curriculum and aims to establish an African university community to deliver ES / ERP education courses within the sub-Saharan region together with the business management software, solutions and services market leader SAP and OVGU, where the UCC (University Competence Center) Magdeburg will provide access to the SAP ERP education systems.

The project objective during the 3 year funded phase is to develop a partnership with at least one large university close to a metropolitan in each of 9 sub-Saharan countries, as well as one other university in South Africa.

The partners are developing a highly integrated course design. The curriculum will consist of adjustable content to match regional market requirements and learning needs. Students will learn about business processes and how they are mapped into Large Business Applications. Enterprise Systems courses for lecturers and students will be offered in co-operation with partner African universities.

The partners will develop a community of universities across Sub-Saharan Africa for Enterprise Systems education. The Department of Information Systems at UCT is in charge of the local project operation, curriculum development and support, marketing and roll-out during the 3 year funded phase, the objective being to ultimately establish a sustainable business model for future Enterprise Systems education at universities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

University Partnerships

The university partners will collaborate in conducting research and regional field studies with the long-term objective of driving collaborative cross-border research in ES teaching. A multi-dimensional research approach will ensure a high quality and relevant curriculum and long-term sustainable Enterprise Systems education in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The need for qualified ICT personnel in African countries

Africa is a continent characterized by a huge diversity in the social and industrial sector. The growing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Sub-Saharan Africa has brought about substantive economic changes in the region which are influencing people’s lives. New industries are being established which are having a heavy impact on local job markets.In this context information technology plays a decisive role in Africa’s further economic development.

Growth in the small to medium-sized enterprise sector has led to an increase in the implementation of enterprise systems software in industry. Companies need highly skilled employees who are familiar with modern information and computer technology in order to manage complex tasks and projects. Consequently, there is a need to offer opportunities for professional development to future generations of employees to not only give them an in-depth understanding of highly integrated business processes, but also know-how of standard business software. Despite the trend towards Enterprise Systems adoption, the shortage of qualified ICT personnel remains one of the major challenges organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa are battling to overcome.

ESEFA at the University of Zambia

The department of Computer Science currently offers training in ESEFA SAP only to full time registered students (undergraduate and postgraduate students) of the department, free of charge. These students are taught by competence lecturers who passed the training of trainers course conducted by the University of Cape Town. It is hoped that upon graduation, these students will influence and help their employers to utilise Enterprise resource planning (ERP systems). An ERP is a business process management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources.

Knowing business processes and software applications

Various business areas and the management information of an enterprise, e.g. financial accounting, human resources, logistics, manufacturing, marketing etc., are all united in enterprise systems, thereby supporting information flow within an enterprise and the communication with outside market participants.

The software application can optimize resources making business processes more efficient. Having the ability to understand and work with these software applications is a major advantage for students in Africa who will be in the job market in the near future. A high quality education which includes enterprise systems experience and understanding being offered at African universities will contribute to overcoming current skills shortages of professional ICT personnel in African countries and thereby contribute to an increase in Africa’s competitiveness, productivity and growth.

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