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Can Africa use technology to reverse the cycle of poverty and achieve economic growth?

According to the Planet Earth Institute (PEI), a charitable NGO dedicated to achieving the scientific independence of Africa, advanced scientific expertise is the key to long-term sustainable development in Africa. 

The global economy is increasingly driven by access to information, which provides Africa with a vital opportunity if it can achieve significant advances in its use of science and technology.

Until now, however, investment in science, technology, and engineering by African nations has been very low, although there is a growing understanding by African leaders that more investment is required. The African Union has declared it will devote more resources to science and technology, however success will depend upon collaboration between business, government and educators.

In building Africa's scientific infrastructure, there are many obstacles to be overcome.

Africa has very few scientists, due in part to the low number of students progressing to tertiary education but also the loss of graduates seeking opportunities overseas. To compound the problem, inadequate resources in many universities and a lack of connections with other centres of higher learning, result in graduates whose qualification compares less favourably than those from international universities. 

By bringing together the different stakeholders to discuss the issues (such as at the recent forum hosted by PEI at the office of the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations), a way can be found to move forward. International organisations (such as USAID and UNESCO), governments and the telecommunications industry already have a number of regional projects underway, and existing small regional programs that are working well need to be identified and increased in scale.

One area where technology offers great opportunities is m-learning – where information and training are provided on mobile devices such as phones or tablets. With the widespread take-up of mobile phones in Africa, this has the potential to achieve massive gains. It’s an arena where business and educators must work together since it requires a shift in thinking – simply making the existing material available on a mobile device will not provide the advances required. And although mobile devices are already widespread, the high cost of connection is a limitation that needs to be addressed if Africa is to make the exponential gains that technology offers.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

Comments

moshelbeads's picture

You've raised important issues

Hi Garima, I agree with you that m-learning is an area where technology offers great opportunities . The cost of connection is expensive however, I think stakeholders should create more awareness about the benefits of technology in Africa especially the internet.

Best regards,
Rebecca Osei.F

Lea's picture

Hi Garima, Yes, m-learning

Hi Garima,
Yes, m-learning can be quite helpful in spreading the use of technology in Africa. Thank you for sharing.

Dear Garima,

I believe more than just the number of people not progressing to tertiary institutions; is the problem of appalling scientific infrastructure.

Most school children, students or people in Africa are not just exposed to the basic scientific infrastructure and this has sunk deeply hampering their creative ability scientifically and technologically. Most times school students have to work more with their imagination in learning; unfortunately experience is the best teacher of which we greatly lack in the aspect of science and technology.

You mentioned Africa has few scientist, I want to believe this is because we have very poor science orientation.
The M-learning would be very helpful in improving our science base.

Idara.

gracest's picture

Hi Garima, Thank you for

Hi Garima,

Thank you for your post! you bring up great points about technology and its potential to empower African citizens. I especially appreciate your point about the nation losing many of its scientists and higher-ed graduates to other countries. The key is to make Africa a welcome place for these intellectuals to establish themselves at home. I hope that m-learning offers that opportunity to create a breeding ground for innovation from the ground up. PEI sounds like an excellent organization and I enjoyed watching the video.

Grace

SanPatagonia's picture

Interesting post!

Hi Garima,
I've loved this post. You bring up a few selected topics with a great deal of impact in African population. The challenge is to overcome obstacles in an organized, collaborative way. I do agree with you on the importance of NGOs and international organizations in this task.
M-learning is what's happening now in South America, yet the connectivity challenge is still too high to prove it successful. We have a long way to go...

@SanPatagonia
Be a voice, tell a story, start the fire. | Sé una voz, cuenta una historia, enciende el fuego.

Anita Muhanguzi's picture

Thank you for sharing

Dear Garima,
Thank you so much for sharing. I for one did not know about this new technology and i always tell my family, friends and the community that i serve that we are always learning and we should never think education stopped in school. Thank you for sharing and i would like to know more about the impacts of this technology on your community. Thank you and God bless you my dear sister.

Mrs. Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Head of Legal and Advocacy
Centre for Batwa Minorities
a.kiddu@gmail.com
cfmlegal@gmail.com
Skype: mrs_muhanguzi

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