As attention moves from the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), political leaders will join education experts and investors at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa later this month to discuss the role technology can play in building on Africa’s progress in education, training and development.
The Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, HE Hailemariam Desalegn; HE Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and Guenter Nooke, Personal Representative for Africa of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will be among those playing a prominent role in this year’s ‘eLearning Africa,’ the continent’s leading conference on ICT supported education and training.
They will be joined at the conference and its accompanying Ministerial Round Table by a galaxy of education and ICT ministers, officials, advisers and entrepreneurs, including Ethiopian Ministers Debretson Gebremichael (Communications and Information Technology); Demitu Hambisa (Science and Technology) and Shiferaw Shigutie Wolassa (Education); Elham Mahmood Ibrahim (African Union Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy); Aida Opoku-Mensah (UN Economic Commission for Africa); Rebecca Enonchong (Founder and CEO of AppsTech); Shai Reshef (Founder and Director of ‘The University of the People’); Mark Surman (Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation); Noah Samara (Chairman and CEO of ‘Yazmi’); and Firoze Manji (Director of the pan-African Baraza).
It is no surprise that so many top politicians and business leaders will be at eLearning Africa, which marks its tenth anniversary this year and is likely to be attended by more than 1,200 participants from all over the world. As several African economies continue to grow at annual rates of around ten per cent, observers increasingly recognise that investment in education and technology is crucial to maintaining the momentum. A recent report by the African Development Bank on progress towards the achievement of the MDGs noted the “spectacular leaps in primary education enrolment” achieved by African countries but emphasised that further progress was “central to inclusive growth.” Ministers and others attending the conference will be keen to look at ways in which technology assisted education and training can contribute to growth. Under this year’s eLearning Africa theme ‘Enriching Tomorrow’, the event’s extensive agenda includes sessions on subjects such as, ‘Can gamification transform Africa’s learning and skills gap?’; ‘Developing a generation of young employed leaders’; ‘Exploiting Google apps for health professional trainings’; ‘Improving reading skills of 15 million Ethiopian children: mobile technology supporting pre-service education’; ‘The future of eLearning for African journalists’; ‘Mobile learning: The future of education in Africa’; ‘Successful formulae to remove digital illiteracy from Africa’ and ‘e-Agriculture climate initiatives’. Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Debretson Gebremichael, said his country took “enormous satisfaction” in welcoming eLearning Africa to Addis Ababa for the second time:
“This is an opportunity for all of us to share our best practices, to learn about the latest developments and build powerful partnerships and networks in the digital learning process. The theme ‘Enriching tomorrow’ focuses on different issues and some of them are mobile learning, smart technologies and tools for the teaching and learning process, and advanced research on eLearning ecosystems. “In short, we should work together to digitally develop countries and regions, and governments and institutions so that more people can benefit from the educational and economic advantages that ICT offers.”
Rebecca Stromeyer, Founder of eLearning Africa and CEO of ICWE GmbH, the company which is co-organising the conference with the African Union, said:
“This year’s eLearning Africa takes place at a moment of real opportunity for the continent. Now is the time when technology can really help to entrench the progress many African countries have made in education. If the right decisions are taken now, they will help to sustain long-term economic growth. That’s why it’s very significant – and a very positive sign – that so many top political, business and academic figures will be at this conference.
“And I’m delighted that, this year, we’re back in Addis Ababa. With a population of 87 million, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s largest economies. It is also a country, which is investing heavily in education, technology and communications infrastructure. So, it’s a very good place for our discussions about practical solutions and best practices.”
eLearning Africa will be held at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa from May 20-22.