Online education platforms are becoming popular by the day since the coronavirus pandemic. Besides attention and adoption, these platforms are also attracting a growing volume of investments.

Almentor is an e-learning platform developed by an Egyptian startup. It lets users get trained with various educational videos. 

For Ihab Fikry, co-founder and CEO of Almentor, the solution hosts "an abundance of courses and talks that are capable of nurturing Arab youth, enhancing their experiences, and serving their career paths by providing them with what they deserve to advance their careers on all fronts."

To access the courses, users need to create an account, either via the solution's Android app or web platform, subscribe (the monthly subscription fee is $7.5), then choose a course or lecture. The user can choose courses in several categories including arts and design, photography and filmmaking, human resources, management, lifestyle, theater, sports, business, corporate communication, digital media, sales and marketing, and technology. All the courses and talks are in Arabic and most of the users and lecturers are Arab speakers.

In addition to the video content, the solution has a document library where users can expand their knowledge. According to PlayStore data, the mobile app has already been downloaded more than 50,000 times but, the startup behind the solution wants to reach more people. Since its launch, it has raised some $14.5 million to support its growth in the Middle East and North Africa.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

The coronavirus pandemic and the Ebola outbreak fragilized the education system in Guinea. This highlighted the need to set up innovative tools to back the education system.

Last Friday, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Guinean Ministry of Pre-University Education launched the pilot phase of the e-learning platform "Learning Passport," at Gbessia Port 1 elementary school in the commune of Matoto, Conakry. The new digital platform, created to support student learning, will provide continuous access to educational resources for children, youth, and teachers.

According to Dr. Adama Ouedraogo (photo, left), UNICEF's Acting Representative in Guinea, the new platform will help "improve teaching and learning and enhance the skills and knowledge acquired  both formally and informally." "To students, it means continuous access to the curriculum and additional learning materials. To teachers, it means steady access to training opportunities and educational support," he added.

Over the four coming months, the platform will be test-run in two schools  (Ratoma Centre and Gbessia port 1) in Conakry. The National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP), with the support of UNICEF, will assess teachers' and students' ability to access the digital content available on "Learning Passport."

The platform, delivered by UNICEF and powered by Microsoft Community Training, was developed with a unique suite of online and offline features and capabilities. It will first be deployed in places with intermittent or no Internet connectivity - often places where children find themselves unable to access quality digital educational tools and content.

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech

The tech entrepreneur has experience in a wide range of sectors including finance and banking, education, and technology. With his edtech Zeraki, he develops tech solutions to improve the quality of education in Africa.  

Isaac Nyangolo (photo) is a Kenyan entrepreneur and the co-founder/CEO of edtech firm Zeraki which offers innovative tools to make teaching and learning effective, engaging, and productive.

The flagship product of that edtech (founded in 2014) is Zeraki Analytics. It transforms the way educational data is collected, analyzed, and used. Another product, Zeraki Learning, provides a platform to learn from highly experienced teachers, get tested, and track performance. The third product, Zeraki Touch, is a foolproof biometric system that allows for efficient tracking of daily school operations.

In early December, Isaac Nyangolo raised US$1.8 million in seed funding in a round led by Acumen Fund to expand the startup's product catalog and continue its regional expansion. "We plan on building more administrative tools for schools, and payment products on the parents’ side. We have also brought back focus on [the once dormant] digital learning platform, and tested a number of products like timetabling.[...]We’re expanding first into the regions that we understand and have similar business environments with. We plan on first moving into the entire East Africa community and then exploring the Anglophone region," Isaac said. 

Currently, he is the chairperson of the Harvard Club of Kenya and a member of the board of the data analytics firm  Superfluid Labs. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Kenyan chapter of non-profit organization Education For All Children. He entered the professional world in 2007, as a planning and design engineer for home entertainment operator Wananchi Online. 

In 2009, he joined Citibank N.A. as a clearing assistant before landing at Equity Bank Ltd as a marketing analyst. He was later appointed program manager for the Nairobi-based Equity Group Foundation.  

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

During the Covid-19 pandemic, remote education proved a crucial choice to ensure education continuity in Africa. Since then, the edtech segment has been growing steadily with a growing number of Africans adopting this option to further their education.  

Sweetch is an e-learning platform developed by a Cameroonian eponymous start-up. It allows its users access to paid and free educational content online.  It aims to create new opportunities for people and businesses by leveraging emerging technologies. 

The platform has a mobile application -accessible for Android and iPhone users- that enables users to register accounts to access the courses. The edtech offers a multitude of academic and professional courses as well as masterclasses in various fields. Users can choose to learn at their own pace by defining their schedules. They can learn by watching high-quality videos and reading slides and PDFs and asking coaches questions when they don’t understand some topics. 

The platform also offers live courses, training, and workshops. Learners can interact with the trainers, which greatly expedites the learning curve. Learners can also take part in live events such as webinars, fairs, conventions, forums, exhibitions, etc.

In June 2022, Sweetch was claiming over 2,500 members and setting its sight for 10,000 members and 200 trainers by January 2023. It also hopes to expand to 15 countries in the next 24 months.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

Since his childhood, he has been passionate about technology and video games. He taught himself basic computer skills using internet resources and, over the years, he honed his skills to the extent that he is now a multi-award-winning tech entrepreneur. 

Yahya Bouhlel (photo) is a young Tunisian computer scientist and tech entrepreneur. With his brother Amine Bouhel, he founded GoMyCode, in 2016, to train young Africans in digital skills for their well-being. 

The startup has a “blended education model,” teaches in twelve local languages, and is positioning itself as a regional leader, the tech entrepreneur explained last January, when GoMyCode raised US$8 million to scale operations in eight countries where it is already operational.  At the time Yahya also indicated the startup was planning to enter 12 additional markets by 2024. 

Since his childhood, Yahya is a tech and video game enthusiast. The self-taught computer scientist started developing digital products at 13. In 2014, when he was 15, he traveled to the United States for a summer internship at the computer science college Make School, which noticed his work, including websites, applications, software, and algorithms. During the internship, he improved his game development skills and even developed Mandown, a game he sold to Appstore.  

Over the four following years, he made several trips to Silicon Valley and participated in many Hackathons. He also had the opportunity to learn and network with developers and other actors of the tech ecosystem. 

 The GoMyCode idea was born in 2015, after the start-up boom in Silicon Valley. Indeed, while Silicon Valley was booming, in Tunisia, the ecosystem was almost unexisting. Yahya then decided to create a summer bootcamp, a three-week program during which young people would learn to develop video games. The project has evolved over the years, with GoMyCode training more than 10,000 developers, from children to seniors. 

From 2015 to 2016, Yahya Bouhlel participated in Y Combinator’s incubation program at the University of Standford. In 2017, he was an intern product manager at Upgraded Technologies. 

In 2015, he won an honorable mention at the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit held in Delaware. At Make School, he also won first place in the Pebble AngelHacks Silicon Valley sponsor. With GoMyCode, he won the first Social Enterprise Award issued by the BIAT Youth Foundation and the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab. About two years later,  the World Economic Forum (WEF) named GoMyCode among the 100 Arab start-ups shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

In Africa, the edtech industry is growing fast, in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic that demonstrated the importance of digital transformation. Many startups are offering tailored solutions for students in that industry. 

SmartED Africa is a digital solution developed by a Cameroonian eponymous startup. It provides access to courses, quizzes, and tests in various subjects. The start-up, based in Douala, was founded by Valerie Patricia Bararunyeretse, Simplice Tankoua, and Laba Kagalang.

The solution has an Android-only mobile app that allows users to register a SmartED Africa account, and choose their education level (class) to access the most helpful content. Although the app suggests the content most suited to every user’s education level, other content can be accessed via the side menu or even allow users to change their education level if they want to. 

Users can watch or read the contents online or download them for offline access. The startup included the offline access feature to account for internet access issues that occur quite often in Africa. 

SmartED Africa includes more than 500 lessons, 2,500 quizzes, and 200 tests per class in seven subjects. In the short term, the startup targets 10,000 app downloads. It also wants to increase its user base to 9,500 users and 6,500 subscribers. For now, its Playstore statistics show some thousand downloads. 

Its pricing is as follows: XAF1,600 (US$2.41) monthly XAF3,100 quarterly or XAF4,600 annually. In 2022, it won the special women's prize during the Cameroonian chapter of the Orange Social Venture Prize. It thus won a  check of XAF1 000 000 and 6-month coaching. It will also participate in the final phase of the competition involving 17 countries in which the Orange group operates.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

In recent years, many investors have positioned themselves in the African technology market. This influx motivates local tech entrepreneurs to devise interesting solutions for daily life problems.  

Abjad Teach is an AI e-learning platform developed by Libyan ed-tech startup Abjad Limited, founded in 2018.  It helps schools find the best teachers for their students.

The solution has a mobile app, available for Android and iOS devices. Teachers looking for their first work experience can sign up and showcase their profiles to schools looking for them.  "Abjad will provide everything you need to know about your assignment, Contact details, expected pay, school profile, and other important information. You only see the jobs that suit your profile and interests. Get the best match by selecting your favorite schools, geographical area, subjects, and much more," the platform indicates in its welcoming message.

Thanks to artificial intelligence, schools that have open vacancies for teachers will see only the profiles that match their needs. “All you need to do is complete your school profile, upload jobs as required and Abjad will handle the rest of the application and recruitment process,” Abjad explains. 

In 2022, Abjad was selected among 43 African start-ups that will participate in the social and inclusive Business Camp program sponsored by the French Development Agency. It is also among the winners of the Emerging Mediterranean program and will participate in the Emerging Valley summit in November.  

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

Guaranteeing quality education to children is probably the ambition most common to parents worldwide. However, the task can be challenging without access to the right information. In Nigeria, an edtech startup wants to assist in the process. 

Edusko is a digital solution developed by Nigerian startup Edusko Africa founded in 2017. It is an education marketplace that lists and rates educational institutions, allowing parents to make “informed decisions.”  By founding Edusko Africa, the two co-founders -Jide Ayegbusi and Bukola Owobello- wanted to set up a platform to help parents provide decent and affordable education to their children. 

Thanks to the platform, “schools recruit more than 70 percent of their students with less than 10 percent of their marketing budget on our platform. Parents get as much as a 40 percent school fees discount, and can access low-interest education loans and stationery with ease,” Jide Ayegbusi indicates. 

To access its services, the parents or guardians need to create an account by providing some personal information including their name, surname, email, and phone number. With its search bar, the platform allows parents to filter educational institutions depending on their desired criteria. It also helps users access financial support, whose interest is one of its income sources. 

Edusko Africa currently claims partnerships with over 4,500 private schools while more than 50,000 parents in Nigeria’s 36 states have used the digital platform to select a school for their children. It also claims to have already collected over $150,000 in equity and grants. For the time being, the startup operates in Nigeria but, it intends to scale to other parts of the African continent, including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and Egypt, in the next five years.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

Burkina Faso, like most countries, is constantly looking for innovative solutions to provide quality education to its entire population. To achieve this, the country has turned to ICTs because of the immense potential they offer.

Burkina Faso inaugurated, Tuesday (September 20), the data center of the virtual university of Burkina Faso. The data center  (based in Ouagadougou) was inaugurated by ICT  Minister Aminata Zerbo/Sabané (photo, left), and the Minister of Higher Education Frédéric Ouattara (photo, right).

It is a multi-task and multi-action infrastructure exclusively dedicated to education as its name (datacenter de l’éducation- datacenter for education) implies. According to  Minister Aminata Zerbo/Sabané, it will help host digital resources and enable easier access to them. It will also allow the interconnection of the country's universities, and facilitate access to live classes. 

"This is an important step in the integration of digital tools in higher education to improve the quality of the training offered and address the challenges faced by our universities, including overcrowding,” she said.  

The data center is hosted by the National Agency for the Promotion of Information Technology and Communication (ANPTIC). It has great energy adaptation abilities and a broadband connection to facilitate access to educational resources that will be hosted.

For Minister Frédéric Ouattara,  it will be useful in more ways than one, because "it will not only enable distance learning, e-classes and allow the streaming of remote or in-person classes.  It will also allow demos and help deploy internet in the whole [higher education] system."

The school closure prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing security crisis compelled Burkina Faso to place digitalization at the core of its education projects. In July 2022, 69 of its private and public university lecturers were trained in digital course scripting, design, and assessment. 

The data center built with the technical support of Huawei is the first step of the innovative smart classroom project that the virtual university of Burkina Faso aims to launch soon.

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech

After raising $600,000 in April to support its growth, Malagasy edtech Sayna is partnering with Orange, one of its investors, to reach its flagship goal of training 8,000 developers by 2024.

Orange Madagascar and Malagasy edtech platform Sayna signed, Wednesday (September 14), two partnership agreements to offer tech digital skills to young Malagasies. The agreements were signed by Frederic Debord (photo, left), CEO of Orange Madagascar, and  Matina Razafimahefa (photo, right), one of Sayna's co-founders. Under the agreements, Orange will deploy Sayna licenses, enabling access to the platform’s online courses for its learners’ network.  

The two parties explain that "with Sayna's 100% online and gamified training, Orange is extending its impact, as far as digital inclusion and prompting equal opportunities are concerned, to the entire country.”

They add that thanks to the two agreements, Orange Digital Center Madagascar has become a partner space that will host in-person sessions and events organized by Sayna in Malagasy provinces. 

Sayna was founded in 2018.  By using cutting-edge techniques, it introduces young people to digital professions. It also takes care of their professional integration and assigns various business tasks to trainees, depending on their levels. Its teaching techniques earned the trust of many investors, including Orange Ventures. 

The agreement between Orange and Sayna will enable access to the ed tech professional integration feature for the young people trained at the Orange Digital Center. “With the tasks assigned by Sayna to Orange Coding Academy learners, the latter will get paid professional experience that gives them hands-on training while awaiting their first jobs,” the two parties indicate. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Tech
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