Kenya has potential to become an undisputed market leader in mobile applications and is attracting global interest in that domain. This is according to global software leader, Systems Applications Products (SAP) President Franck Cohen.
Speaking on Wednesday at the SAP world tour in Nairobi, Mr Cohen revealed of plans to partner with Kenyan universities to train specialists in SAP solutions to cater for the increasing demand.
“Africa has a deficit of 2000 consultants in SAP solutions. We are liaising with local universities to train between 200 to 300 certified trainers of SAP curriculum in Kenya alone,” Mr Cohen told Nation.
Mr Cohen said market for mobile and cloud applications is huge in Africa and other parts of the world thus Kenyan companies should seize the opportunity to develop applications that can be deployed globally.
“In Kenya mobile is becoming the preferred device just as in India and the rest of Africa…we already have a platform for mobile application development and developers only need to take advantage of the platform,” said Mr Cohen.
Mr Cohen attributed the growing interest in Africa by global ICT companies to the rapid GDP growth in Africa as compared to Europe and America.
“With a GDP growth of 4-6 per cent, Africa is becoming interesting for many businesses…however unlike in more mature economies, there is little spending on ready for use packaged software but more is still spent on infrastructure and ICT services,” said Mr Cohen.
Ministry of Information PS Bitange Ndemo said the recent launch of government’s open data portal would fuel mobile application development as he called on developers to seize the opportunity presented by expanded ICT infrastructure.
“In the past few years Kenya has experienced exponential growth in ICT infrastructure but it is yet to be fully utilized…we have opportunity to create much more revenue through mobile applications as never happened before,” said Dr Ndemo.
Dr Ndemo said plans are at advanced stage to digitize hospital records to enhance sharing of patient’s records among hospitals for cheaper and faster operations.
On cloud computing, Mr Cohen said companies around the world are reaping immensely from the cloud platform hence that is the way to go for start ups and even the established companies.
"For smaller companies why bother to buy hardware whereas it could turn obsolete in a few years or why should one spend too much on maintenance or employ staff to deploy and maintain systems yet one can cost effectively get the same from the cloud?" said Mr Cohen.
He said SAP has tailored ready to deploy packages that are being used by companies around the world as he urged Kenyan companies to embrace some of the the packages as per their needs to reap benefits.
"We have solutions for small, medium and large scale companies with a dedicated team and partners to ensure our clients' needs are satisfied," he told Nation in an interview.
"From the trends, soon we will have on-premise and cloud solutions replaced by mobile solutions...especially in Africa where mobile phone use is outpacing use of PCs, mobile is the way to go," he argued.
"At SAP we provide solutions to manage the interface solutions on-premise, on cloud and on mobile...we put a lot of emphasis on consistency and integrity of applications," said Mr Cohen.
he however argued that despite the popularity of cloud applications, companies would not be willing to deploy mission critical applications on the cloud due to security reasons.
"Cloud is not ready to take mission critical applications without guarantees...we need to have standards and back up mechanisms...solutions like billing may not go to the cloud any time soon. Cloud applications should be deployed professionally with strong guarantee of security," he advised.
He said SAP's mission in Kenya and Africa is long term since the region offers immense potential for growth.
"Ours is not a hit and run. Kenya is very important for us. we need to do clean business in this country and in Africa. People need to pay a fair price. we don't want to play games. we want to play clean and be committed to our customers," he said revealing that Kenya shall be the headquarters to serve SAP's clients and partners in the region.
With a turnover of $12.5 billion in 2010 and 50,000 employees in more than 57 locations and 37 languages, SAP aims at partnering with local companies to bolster cloud computing and mobile technologies to keep pace with the changing technology world.