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SAP executive Enslin says now is the time to invest in Africa (Photo: SAP)

SAP plans to invest as much as 500 million dlrs in Africa through 2020 in a bid to help the continent accelerate growth in its biggest economies. The business software maker's focus is on South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Angola and Morocco.

“The African market is unique in its growth potential and readiness to innovate,” said Robert Enslin, executive board member of SAP. "The SAP executive board strongly believes that now is the right time to take our engagement and commitment to expand in Africa to the next level."

SAP said it wants to make Africa one of its top-five growth markets globally. Much of the direct investment will be outside South Africa, where the company already has a solid footprint.

The Germany-based software group cited four pillars that will anchor its African growth plan. These are:

  • Fostering stronger growth in key industries such as energy and natural resources and telecommunications in its five target countries.
  • Promoting innovation by rolling out SAP business solutions to help address resource challenges in Africa. These solutions include mobile, cloud and SAP's in-memory SAP HANA product.
  • Launching the so-called emerging entrepreneur initiative in Kenya as a means to help small and mid-sized companies grow faster. These companies contribute roughly 40 pc of Africa's GDP.
  • Introducing a scholarship program that aims to establish an open business ecosystem of SAP-qualified consultants in Africa.
SAP has about 700 employees in Africa, but wants to add another 250 staff through 2015. It also plans to open new offices in Angola and Morocco next year.