eLearning Africa: Advancing from Abidjan. eLearning Africa shows the world “what an exciting, innovative continent Africa is” say the organisers of Africa’s leading conference on technology assisted learning and training, eLearning Africa. This year’s eLearning Africa, which took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 23 -27 October and focussed on “the keys to the future: learnability and employability” was a “great success,” they say.
“eLearning Africa is a content driven conference and it brings together everybody working in this domain of digital education – people doing research, building tools, teachers, small companies, big companies. It’s a fabulous meeting ground,” says Rebecca Stromeyer, the founder of eLearning Africa and Chief Executive of ICWE GmbH, the German company, which organises the event. “It has really helped to show the world what an exciting, innovative continent Africa is and it has focussed attention on the role technology can play in spreading educational opportunity and meeting the UN’s development targets.”
eLearning Africa has gained a reputation for leading the discussion on key issues in African education and training. Its programme includes a ministerial round table, as well as debates, seminars and discussions. One minister described the event as “the new reference theatre for the inter-generational transmission of new knowledge at the continental level.”
Côte d’Ivoire’s Education Minister, HE Mme Kandia Kamossoko Camara, told the conference that she was convinced that the dual focus on both employability and learnability was vital.
“It concerns the employability of young people in a competitive global context and the appropriation of moral and civic values,” she said. “It is no longer a matter of training office clerks for the needs of the administration (this season is over!); but to build the African of today and tomorrow in relation to the requirements, on the one hand of open and global competition, based on talent and skills at both individual and collective level, and secondly socioprofessional insertion in a world in difficulty with employment.”
Other speakers in plenary sessions of the conference included Martin Dougiamas, the founder of Moodle, which has become the world’s largest education platform, and Professor N’Dri Therese Assie-Lumumba of Cornell University, who is one of the world’s greatest experts on comparative education.
The eLearning Africa conference was accompanied by an exhibition at which international companies and organisations presented new technology-based solutions, services and courses.
eLearning Africa is a lot more than just a conference and an exhibition, though. It is also a network of experts throughout Africa and the world, who are helping Africa to seize the opportunity technology offers to expand the reach of education.
“In its fourteen years of existence, eLearning Africa has made a real contribution to the expansion of education in Africa,” says Rebecca Stromeyer. “Our network of experts from all over the world is unique and it is full of people who are helping to transform the prospects of Africans. At the eLearning Africa conferences, when people from all over the world get together, ideas are exchanged, partnerships are created and friendships are forged. It is a very special event.”
Africa Gets Sneak Preview of Germany’s New Learning Platform. Participants at Africa’s top education and technology conference have been given a sneak preview of an innovative eLearning platform, which is set to be launched as part of the German Government’s digital strategy.
At a special event at eLearning Africa, the continent’s leading conference on learning and technology, which was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 23 – 25 October, details of the new Atingi platform were provided for the first time.
Atingi will be formally launched in Europe soon and has been developed by the Africa Cloud, which is a global project, involving the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Smart Africa Alliance and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It focusses on reaching young people in rural and remote areas through innovative digital knowledge and learning opportunities. The aim is to improve their employability and income opportunities via demand-oriented, open and freely accessible learning materials.
Atingi will be a major addition to the portfolio of the Africa Cloud, as it seeks to develop a curriculum that focusses on skills development and capacity building in the broadest sense, rather than merely providing formal education. Atingi aspires to become a pan-African eLearning platform and the Africa Cloud team will work alongside African partners to deliver innovative, contextualised and high-quality learning contents. To further this goal, the Africa Cloud signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Smart Africa Alliance at the ‘Transform Africa’ summit in Kigali. Smart Africa is the digital initiative of the African Union (AU) and its main strategic partner for digital projects in Africa.
Volker Lichtenthäler, a digital learning specialist and the senior project manager for GIZ, said: “In many African countries, access to learning content and lifelong learning opportunities is restricted. This is particularly true for marginalised groups and young people living in rural areas, as well as girls and women. Existing learning formats often do not reach these parts of the population. So, the Africa Cloud is working on innovative solutions, which use new technologies to increase access to learning contents for these groups. To reach this goal, the Africa Cloud is continuously looking for partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders from the private sector and civil society. It is important that learners are accompanied by local partners or online tutors during the learning process. This is a decisive factor in preventing the drop-out rate known in eLearning.”
Diane Malikane, Smart Africa’s ‘Education for All’ project manager, said that it was “a privilege” for Smart Africa to be involved in supporting both the Africa Cloud and its Atingi project. “Delivering a high-quality education to every child in Africa remains unfulfilled,” she said, “but technology presents an opportunity for this to be a reality. eLearning has overwhelming potential to improve education systems in African countries and, if implemented well with strategies that focus on overcoming these key challenges, radical transformation of the education system is possible.”
The event was moderated by Rebecca Stromeyer of Berlin-based ICWE GmbH, who is the founder of eLearning Africa and Dr Benjamin Laag of BMZ, who is the Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, also took part.
eLearning Africa Conference Background
eLearning Africa, is an annual pan-African conference dedicated to examining sustainable solutions for education, training and skills development, through the use of innovative technology to spread educational opportunity. Since the 2005 launch in Addis Ababa of the event, which visits a different African capital each year, technology-assisted learning has expanded massively and now plays a major role in the delivery of learning, training, and research and development in schools, colleges, universities, companies, and organisations across Africa. It has enabled millions of Africans to expand their horizons and take advantage of the countless possibilities new technology offers to learn and acquire new skills and qualifications.
eLearning Africa is the key networking event for ICT-supported education, training, and skills development in Africa and brings together high-level policy makers, decision makers, and practitioners from education, business, and government. During its thirteen consecutive editions, eLearning Africa has hosted 18,800 participants from 100+ countries around the world, with over 85% coming from the African continent. More than 3,700 speakers have presented their ideas, opinions and experience. Serving as a pan-African platform, the eLearning Africa conference is a must for those who want to develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships, as well as enhance their knowledge, expertise, and abilities. The conference and its associated exhibition, featuring the latest products, courses, and solutions from around the world, represent “an outstanding networking opportunity and the best vantage point anywhere in Africa to gain a view of the continent’s edTech market,” according to the organisers.