SAP, Meraka form tech unit


    11 May 2006

    Software vendors SAP Africa and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Meraka Institute have jointly established a facility to foster South African information technology research.

    The facility, to be known as the SAP Meraka Unit for Technology Development, is also backed by the department of science and technology.

    As well as conducting basic and applied Information and Communication Technology (ICT) research, the Tech Unit will be seeking to attract R100 million in additional funding and investment in the next five years.

    Knowledge base
    “It’s common knowledge that there is a direct positive relationship between progress in science and technology and socio-economic development,” said Meraka Institute director Llew Jones at the unit’s launch in Johannesburg earlier this month.

    “Yet South Africa does less than half a percent of the world’s new science and technology knowledge generation.

    “It’s imperative, therefore, that we gain access to the rest of the world’s science and technology knowledge base and skills, so that we can improve our capacity.

    The Meraka Institute was formed in response to President Thabo Mbeki’s call in 2002 for a South African “ICT University”. The institute aims to promote economic and social development through ICT research and innovation.

    “Being the first of its kind, the SAP Meraka Unit will be a benchmark for other such initiatives,” said Jones.

    Business case
    “The SAP Meraka Unit will help SAP as a global organisation understand the technology needs of emerging economies,” said SAP Research Vice-President, Dr Joachim Schaper.

    “Which makes helping the South African government meet its objectives of triggering research innovation, local development and commercialisation an extremely powerful and persuasive business case for us.”

    SAP is one of the world’s leading business software providers, with more 33 000 customers in more than 120 countries. reporter

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