SAP aims to empower government

Alvin Paules, head of Public Sector at SAP Africa

Urbanisation is increasing at a rapid pace as witnessed across all countries in Africa. It is up to cities to re-look their models of engagement with regards to their citizens and urban planning methodologies.

SAP will be hosting the African chapter of the Urban Matters event, which showcases best practices form global cities as well as addressing African-specific issues. It will take place in Cape Town from 14-15 November 2013.

The event has been hosted in cities such as New York (USA), Puebla (Mexico) and Bogota (Columbia) and focuses on how cities and municipalities can make use of innovative technologies for greater efficiency. The African chapter will feature the opening address by City of Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille, and a key note address on ‘Connected Cities’ by Nirvesh Sooful, CEO at African Ideas.

Africa is becoming increasingly urbanized as thousands flock to the major hubs. Here, the urban population was 36% in 2010 and is expected to increase to 50% and 60% by 2030 and 2050 respectively.

African cities now have a record number of inhabitants, a trend which is likely to grow. According to Alvin Paules, head of Public Sector at SAP Africa, “Urbanisation on the African continent is significantly higher than on other continents and the presence of innumerable informal settlements in sub Saharan Africa makes the situation even more complex.”

SAP is a global market leader in the enterprise application software and has a strong and rapidly growing global presence in helping urban governments tackle the increasing complexity of this urbanisation boom. “SAP’s Urban Matters solution portfolio is empowering SAP to deepen its understanding of varied urban issues that are both business and technology-related and thereby broaden its focus on matters most pertinent to cities, municipalities and state governments,” says Paules.

He further states that, “Armed with knowledge gathered by working with such organisations across the globe, SAP recognises that many African governments today need help in dealing with the unprecedented rapid pace of urbanisation and its myriad of accompanying complexities. In some cases, the inability to master these complex issues has led to huge gaps in the smooth running of cities."

"SAP’s Urban Matters programme is specifically geared to automate many of the ordinarily time-consuming tasks (like delivering real time information to city officials mobile devices) thereby freeing up governments to focus on matters that truly add value to the citizen: improving the quality of their lives and creating well run cities and urban settlements that meet the specific needs of their inhabitants,” he adds.

The SAP Urban Matters solution is helping urban government deliver better run cities in this drive for smarter economies, sustainable growth and power of connected citizens.

The solution focuses on five key pillars:

  1. Good governance
  2. User empowerment
  3. Community engagement
  4. Service innovation
  5. Urban resilience

Elaborating on the rationale behind these five pillars, Paules says, “The recent unprecedented growth in African urban settlements require fresh thinking and creativity around how municipalities can stay ahead of the game and run better. SAP Urban Matters uniquely helps municipalities to engage with citizens, improve efficiencies, deliver better services, improve tax and revenue collection, addresses social inclusion, opens up government, and increase public safety and sustainability.”

“When talking about the kind of solutions needed by our cities, we must remember that one size certainly does not fit all,” he continued.” he adds. This is especially true when one considers the range of different African cities; each is unique and has its own set of opportunities and challenges. Trying to be the best city possible, while remaining competitive, is a complex and constant challenge for all municipalities. That is why the SAP Urban Matters provides tailored solutions that enable cities to thrive, innovate, and transform, all the while improving the lives of the citizens.”

According to Paules, many cities in sub Saharan Africa are challenged by safety, security, and unemployment issues due to the presence of informal settlements, thus affecting the GDP growth of the economy. He further mentions that cities in India and China not plagued by such problems show extremely good growth. Citizen related issues clearly take their toll when not effectively addressed. Many cities in Asia and Latin America are changing for the positive faster than cities in North America and Europe, initiating a migration of highly skilled people to those regions, helping growth in the economy.

SAP has noted that in Africa, effective city governance is hugely improved if a collaborative model is employed whereby municipalities transparently collaborate with citizens, including those living in informal settlements. According to Paules, “Following such a model, African municipalities can differentiate themselves by demonstrating responsiveness and a real willingness to co-innovate with their citizens. This will, in turn, encourage citizens to be accountable and cooperative when they see the city’s willingness to work on solving problems together in an efficient manner.”

In terms of the role that technology plays in all of this, Paules comments that, “In order to address the challenges of urbanisation faced by a number of African cities, governments must re-examine their previous problem solving models. Harnessing technology best-practices gleaned from experience all over the globe is crucial to success. SAP has helped many of the world’s leading cities solve a number of fundamental issues and it is encouraging to see Africa starting to embrace this approach and adopt innovative technologies to become smarter and more efficient.” 

For more information, contact Manti Grobler at 011 319 7478 or email manti.grobler@sap.com. 


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