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SAP’s Sohail Carim commits to digital Africa

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Sohail Carim, SAP global director of digital government management.
Sohail Carim, SAP global director of digital government management.

Innovative technologies and the application thereof hold the potential to deliver large-scale socio-economic outcomes for Africa.

So says Sohail Carim, newly-appointed SAP global director of digital government management, in an e-mail interview with ITWeb.

He says technology can optimise resource management and allocation for efficient service delivery or connect communities, as well as create markets for greater economic participation.

Explaining how the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has become an integral part of government efforts to revive the economy, Carim says: “The key is for governments to define desired outcomes for socio-economic growth and then to apply innovation technologies to facilitate the attainment of these outcomes.

“Importantly, the 4IR and the associated technologies deliver the ability to radically optimise and enhance societal development and progression. It is absolutely crucial that governments take advantage of the opportunities enabled by 4IR to gear their communities for exponential growth.”

Carim was appointed to his new role last month and will drive SAP’s efforts with public sector organisations across the African continent, as well as Middle East and North America.

Carim’s tenure with SAP comes as there are growing calls to use digital transformation to ease SA’s weak jobs outlook.

Gartner research shows that this year, artificial intelligence will be a positive net job motivator, creating 2.3 million jobs worldwide, while only eliminating 1.8 million jobs.

Looking at what SA can do to enhance digital transformation in the country, Carim says local organisations (public and private) have already made significant strides in establishing the foundation for digital transformation.

“Relevant organisations will need to ‘double down’ in deploying acquired digital technology to realise envisioned benefits and associated returns. More specifically and where appropriate, organisations in South Africa may need to consider repurposing their digital investments to address inherent challenges so that the potential of digital technologies can be unlocked to deliver the required socio and economic transformation,” he explains.

In his new global role at SAP, Carim says he will assist African governments to drive digital transformation.

“I believe my new role will enable me to develop a broader global perspective over public sector initiatives around the world. This allows me to work with African governments in adapting global initiatives and applying digital technologies that are relevant to the African context.

“It is my aspiration to use this opportunity to partner with African public sector organisations and deliver greater and more holistic public outcomes to a broader constituent base, thereby helping to stimulate accelerated economic growth in Africa through 2020 and beyond.”

Carim notes that in his engagements with governments across Africa, “it is evident that our continental leaders want to be at the forefront of public service digital transformation into the future.

“There are also examples where African governments are already leading the pack and creating the best practice that other global governments are adopting in regard to digital transformation.”

According to Carim, there is appreciation by the South African government and its counterparts on the continent that digital transformation is critical.

“There are a number of initiatives in South Africa and across Africa to lead the adoption of innovation technology to enable transformation.”

Carim says he will push three key priorities in driving digital transformation on the continent. He will: “Focus on the end game, that is delivering broad crosscutting socio-economic outcomes, fostering collaboration across African states (where applicable), define a path toward success and engage at the highest levels to drive transformation based upon best practices.”

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