05 Oct e-Learning in Africa
Each year I receive the promotional material for the e-Learning Africa Conference. In 2012 it is being hosted in Benin. Initially I thought that the developing world would be playing catch-up with new technologies like e-learning but then I remembered my trip to Tanzania in 2001 to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
In the villages around the base of the mountain there were frequent wooden shacks selling a very limited range of products and the three brands that were the most widespread were Coca Cola, Fanta and Vodafone. I realised then that large parts of Africa had skipped a generation of communications technology – the infrastructure for landline telephones had never made it to many parts of the countryside so when mobile phones became cheap enough the demand for them in Africa was enormous. For the first time people in remote villages could make calls on their own phones.
And it appears that the same is true of the ‘learning infrastructure’ – the massive demand for learning combined with the geography and the need to keep costs low has meant that e-learning has a vital role to play in developing the skills and capabilities of poorer people across Africa.
It’s good to see a new technology being used in such a positive way. Some day I will get to the conference myself and experience e-learning African style.