Africa's largest electricity company Eskom is using its state-owned position to finance 1,000 graduate IT training places at third party organisations, as part of its corporate responsibility programme.
South Africa's Eskom employs 2,000 IT professionals in its own internal IT department, which make sure IT systems run well for its electricity generating and sales business. The company has just taken on 200 graduates of its own to help manage its ongoing SAP transformation programme, and sees financing another 1,000 as essential for its IT ecosystem.
Eskom is Africa's largest electricity supplier providing 95 percent of South Africa's power and 40 percent of Africa's total electricity consumed. The business has 27 main power generating locations providing coal, gas, hydro, nuclear and wind power.
To support such a varied production network Eskom undertook almost 120 IT projects over the last year, said Eskom CIO Sal Laher.
Laher said: "We plan to finance 1,000 graduates as part of our corporate responsibility programme to create schools of excellence. We can do this because we are a state-owned company which has the necessary buying power and the social responsibility.
"We want to create black-owned businesses to support black empowerment legislation, localised IT content and skills."
Laher said such a move would support the energy sector IT ecosystem Eskom is involved in. Laher has targeted five main IT areas where such graduates would be trained in. These are Microsoft skills, service desk, industrial system testing, business intelligence and SAP.
Eskom has started its migration to Windows 7 and 8 from Windows XP. The company is also adding around another 20 SAP business software modules to the first implementation of a SAP upgrade it completed in October 2011.
The previous SAP upgrade saw Eskom consolidate from four different SAP systems covering various areas of its business to a single instance, to create a "single version of the truth", as well as save millions of Rand from only signing a single SAP software contract.
Eskom is now taking that a step further by adding the 20 modules to cover business areas like mobile working, e-recruitment, estates management, improved engineering accountability and a number of others, to further support the needs of over 30,000 SAP end users at the company.
Laher says the graduate programme will feed into his own aim of making IT truly central to Eskom's business strategy. Laher said, "IT must transition from a cost centre to a strategic enabler for the business."
At a SAP press event in South Africa he outlined his strategic IT roadmap:
Now - IT is a cost centre that must operate technology efficiently12-18 months - become a strategic partner - use technology to drive business goalsLong-term (24-36 months) - become a strategic enabler - initiate business changes through technologyService provider (visionary) - use technology to achieve business goals