Report: ICT Skills Shortage Becoming A Crisis In Africa

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Written by Dana Sanchez

“Flooded” with job offers – that’s how it is for computer science honors graduates from South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, according to a report in BizTechAfrica.

South Africa alone is short of 20,000 to 70,000 high-end information and communications technology professionals, according to Prof. Andre Calitz with the university’s Department of Computing Sciences. He spoke at a media round table in Johannesburg on the sidelines of the SYSPRO Africa 2013 User Conference.

The industry has a growing need for employees with enterprise resource planning (ERP) skills. ERP involves business management software – usually a suite of integrated applications -that a company uses to manage business processes such as product planning and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales, inventory management and shipping.

Not enough tertiary institutions are offering education in the ERP field, Calitz said.

“The ICT skills shortage in South Africa, specifically in the ERP field, is of national concern and industry is increasingly relying on tertiary institutions to address this skills crisis,” he said.

The skills shortage does not cut across all levels of ICT, however. It’s mainly in development, business intelligence, business process outsourcing, data analytics, testing and quality assurance, and enterprise architecture, said Brenda Scholtz of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

ICT academics and highly skilled professionals in the diaspora are returning to several African countries, but overall levels of technical and software skills needed across the continent are not sufficient to meet demand, Calitz said.

ICT entrepreneurs have been slow to emerge in Southern Sudan, but skilled ICT professionals are returning to the country, said James Mugeni of SABMiller.

Mobile apps can play a role in delivering ICT learning and generating interest in careers in ICT, Calitz said.

“By combining the lack of ICT skills, the massive global usage of the Internet and web portals, and mobile development, we can see that there has become a need for a mobile ICT career app,” he told BizTechAfrica. “Currently, career apps tend to focus on recruitment rather than education and career guidance. School children and students are not given enough ICT qualification information and career guidance and a possible way to get around this issue is to create ICT awareness amongst scholars and students using mobile apps.”