In Africa, with the acceleration of digital transformation, there is currently a shortage of digital skills. The situation is concerning for various governments, which are stepping up efforts to create digital skill pools and reduce unemployment at the same time.  

The Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) recently launched a national digital academy to promote digital skills in Benin.  The founding memorandum of understanding was signed, last Thursday (September 8), by Lacina Koné (photo, right), CEO of Smart Africa, and Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou (photo, left), Beninese Minister of Digital Economy. 

According to Lacina Koné, “SADA is a direct solution to the digital skill shortage facing Benin, in particular, and Africa as a whole. SADA Benin will support [authorities’] agenda that aims to place digital skills at the core of Africa’s current and future socioeconomic development.”

In the framework of the partnership agreement between Bening and the Smart Africa alliance, forty cybersecurity and artificial intelligence instructors are already being trained. Once their training is completed, those instructors will train and pass on their skills to other instructors to build a pool of qualified instructors. The SADA also plans to offer advanced ICT courses to managers and teachers.

Thanks to the reforms and flagship projects in the Beninese government's strategic plan, the country jumped from the 177th spot in the UN e-Government Development Index in 2016 to the 157th spot in 2020. 

The SADA Benin initiative will therefore be a key support to the country’s digital transformation plan, which aims to transform Benin into a digital services hub in West Africa. 

For Minister  Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou, the alliance will "consolidate the efforts already undertaken by the Republic of Benin in the framework of its national development program and provide new cooperation opportunities.”

SADA Benin is the fourth national academy launched by Smart Africa since January 2022. The first three were in Congo, Rwanda, and Ghana. The alliance plans to launch similar academies in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Tunisia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, and Sierra Leone in the coming months.

Since it began operations in August 2020, focusing on the Capacity Building for Decision Makers (CBDM) module, SADA has trained approximately 3,000 decision and policymakers across 26 countries on topics related to digital transformation and hot emerging technologies. Its goal is to train more than 22,000 people in partner countries, by 2023.

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech

In Africa, economically disadvantaged populations’ poor access to technological skills raises concerns about increasing inequalities in the job market. Actors are inking partnerships to ensure the digital economy benefits everyone. 

Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-A), the Mastercard Foundation, and the Rwanda government will train 10,000 African youth from economically disadvantaged communities in digital skills. For that purpose, the three parties signed a US$275.7 million agreement yesterday. 

According to an official release, the investment provided by the Mastercard Foundation “includes a $175M endowment to perpetually fund CMU-Africa [...] and $100.7M to establish CMU-Africa’s Center for the Inclusive Digital Transformation of Africa.” The funds will help reach  a broad audience as well as specific targets, including young women, youth with disabilities, and forcibly displaced youth.  The beneficiaries will receive advanced training in information technology, electrical and computer engineering, and artificial intelligence. Some of the training programs will be delivered online. 

According to the World Bank, millions of young Africans will be in the job market by 2030. For Farnam Jahanian, president of Carnegie Mellon University,  "it's important to give them access to education in the high-tech fields that are driving the economies of the future.”

Rwandan Minister of Education, Valentine Uwamariya, indicated that the “strategic partnership with Carnegie Mellon University is one of the Government of Rwanda’s key investments to support the development of a critical mass of skills [...] required by the knowledge economy and to help accelerate Rwanda and the region’s socioeconomic transformation.”

The agreement between Carnegie Mellon University Africa and the Mastercard Foundation builds on a previous partnership between the two parties, as well as a successful 10-year collaboration between the Rwandan government and the academic institution.

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech

With the coronavirus demonstrating the importance of distance learning, many companies have set out to conquer the market by deploying significant resources to face the competition from international platforms.

eCampus is an e-learning platform developed by a Ghanaian eponymous startup. It is the modern platform of the startup, which started digitizing courses in 2003 by uploading them on floppy diskettes to allow users to conveniently learn without having to face the rigid traditional education means. 

The e-learning platform helps users (students and employees notably) reach their training goals via its web and mobile apps launched in 2015. According to eCampus founder  Cecil Senna Nutakor, the whole thing started following its harsh education experience. “I failed my final secondary school exams three times in a row, and all those times I wanted to find a tool I could use to prepare me and let me know if I was ready for the exams. I did not want to believe I was dumb as my parents and uncles thought, because I knew there was just a problem with the system,” he indicates. 

eCampus’s mobile is accessible for Android and iOS devices. It allows users access to the resources available on the platform, provided they create an account by providing an email, a password, names and surnames, and referrers (if any).  

The solution uses artificial intelligence to optimize students’ revision process by letting them know their strengths and weaknesses. It uses the same technology to help employees assess their preparedness for the job market and the relevance of their skills. 

The e-learning platform also allows teachers to earn additional income by helping students and employees.  With the coronavirus demonstrating the importance of e-learning, the startup now claims more than 50,000 registered users, including over 25,000 active users and more than 1,719 lessons available. It plans to expand into English-speaking East and Southern African markets and into French-speaking Africa.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions
vendredi, 26 août 2022 13:52

Stranerd eases peer learning in Nigeria

The solution started in 2018 as an Instagram page offering educational assistance. It evolved to become the edtech platform, as it is known now, to allow students to help their peers in a quick and more conducive manner. 

Stranerd is an edtech solution developed by a Nigerian startup Stranerd LLC, founded in 2021. It allows students to help themselves in various subjects by asking or answering course-related questions, with rewards for the best students who are most active on the platform. 

"Our goal is to build the largest community of students where collaboration and innovation thrive, to create opportunities for the student to function at the highest level possible and bring the most value to the student community. We intend to do this by fostering peer-to-peer learning by giving students the tools to collaborate and solve their problems," said Stranerd LLC co-founder Jeremiah Godwin.

The solution is available as an Android-only mobile app. It helps students prepare for exams using flashcards and course notes and questions. 

Through its gamified, sleek, and ergonomic interface, Stranerd encourages students to spend enough time on the app to better grasp course subjects. Peer-to-peer learning, as the startup calls it, is free on the platform. However, it is subject to registration (with a set of personal information). For those who wish for it, the startup also offers paid tutoring services and assignment assistance online. 

In 2022, the startup, which started as an Instagram page offering educational assistance, was selected among the 45 participants that will take part in the second edition of the accelerator program Future of Work Africa.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

In Africa, most schools teach lessons in official languages. Practically no courses are taught in local languages. Yet, researches show that teaching courses in local languages can greatly improve academic performance. This partnership may be an interesting experience. 

Last Wednesday, Premium content streaming platform Ckrowd and Nigeria's Center synergies in areas of education, technology, and the dissemination and advocacy of knowledge for the Advancement of Education "School on Air (SOA)" signed a memorandum of understanding to offer digital STEM courses in local Nigerian languages, including Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, but also in French.

For Kayode Adebayo (photo, right), CEO of Ckrowd, the MoU is a starting point to "generate synergies in education, technology, dissemination, and advocacy.”

The initiative comes after research results showed that many Yoruba youth increased their knowledge retention in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects by 65% when studying in their native language. The same is true for Hausa students whose knowledge retention increased by 250% after learning STEM in their native language.

The goal of this agreement is therefore to close the education gap on the African continent and provide opportunities that will help students gain the technical skills, professional knowledge, and attitude needed to excel and function globally with a comprehensive curriculum that will benefit the next generation.

According to stakeholders, the initiative will reach more than 40 million young Africans, particularly in West Africa. It will enable students from different backgrounds to access education, and learning opportunities to improve their livelihoods. Doing so will contribute to sustainable development goal number four which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” 

Kayode Adebayo explains that the MoU is just the beginning of numerous projects to improve the living conditions of “the next generations of young Africans.” 

To fulfill that goal, Ckrowd  intends to partner with various parties “to deliver true value to young Diasporans and Africans on the Continent” as well as create “unique and ad-hoc local solutions and innovation to advance African nations and harness the new dynamic of the digital age, content creation, technology, and education.” 

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech

There have always been debates about the efficiency of mainstream teaching methods in Africa. Some claim that the methods are not efficient since they are tailored to local realities. In Tunisia,  a startup is addressing that issue to improve the performance of primary school pupils in a fun way. 

Class Quiz is a digital solution developed by the Tunisian start-up Envast, founded in 2016 to make quality education accessible to everyone. The digital solution helps primary school pupils learn while playing. 

It has a mobile application, available on Play Store and Huawei App gallery. Its contents are adapted to the requirements of the Tunisian national curriculum and presented in a fun manner to attract children.  Class Quiz can be used to revise school concepts or even learn at home under parents' supervision. 

To allow access to the quiz contents, Envast charges forty Tunisian dollars (about US12.5) for a 3-month subscription.  Envast indicates that its primary target is the African education market, which is expected to grow to US$1.8 billion by 2024. In addition to its services to individuals, it creates content for non-governmental organizations and foundations. For example, it created content for  Orange Foundation’s Digital School. It also created content for the French Institute’s "Yallab" project. In 2021, thanks to Class Quiz, the startup was one of the finalists of the accelerator program Emerging Mediterranean.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

The coronavirus pandemic prompted the development of numerous distance-learning platforms in Africa. In Morocco, an edtech startup has decided to facilitate the process. 

KoolSkools is a digital edtech platform deployed by a Moroccan eponymous startup in 2020.  It enables schools to digitalize their course materials, create a content bank and deliver live classes online.  It aims to help improve the academic performance of primary and secondary school students. 

According to its founders, KoolSkools “helps unleash students’ creativity, lets them experience another type of education, facilitates interactions and knowledge transfer, connect schools, teachers, students, and parents while offering quality educational content.” 

The platform has a mobile app (available for Android and iOS devices) that allows parents, students, teachers, and academic institutions to register an account with KoolSkools. Using the app, students can attend classes and send practical assessments to teachers. As for parents, they can monitor their children’s performance and class attendance as well as access course transcripts. 

KoolSkools also aims to be a digital management tool for daily school operations such as student records, payment management, and communication with parents.

The edtech is present in several major Moroccan cities and claims to work with about 30 schools, 20,000 students, and nearly 700 teachers. Its ambition is to reach 100,000 students in the next two or three years and cover the whole of Morocco. Recently, it secured US$290,000 support from the institutional fund Maroc Numeric Fund. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

The connected object industry has expanded quickly over the past ten years. Thanks to the new usages allowed by the 5G, it will grow further, becoming an important source of employment in Africa, where there is still a lack of skilled labor in advanced technology sectors.

Four partners will launch a 3-year online Internet of Things (IoT) training program next September. The four partners are notably the virtual universities of Mali, Senegal, and Tunisia and the Franch National Institute of Applied Science (INSA), through its virtual academy OpenINSA. 

According to a release, dated June 23, announcing the training program, it will include courses on the security and architecture of connected objects, the architectural maintainability and reliability of a connected object, the development of digital apps to interact with connected objects, and the basics of data science. 

"The resources developed in the framework of this partnership are placed under a Creative Commons license. They are accessible to project partners’ teacher-researchers in the research section,” indicated Jean-Yves Plantec, the director of OpenINSA. For the director, the main strength of the education project announced is its ability to federate a strong community for its implementation. 

The four partners started developing the project in 2019, in the framework of the Support for the development of French Higher Education in Africa (ADESFA). The project entered a new phase between 2020 and May 2022 when the partners focused on the development of an online program accessible primarily to second-year undergraduate students, but also to employees and those seeking professional retraining. At the end of the 3-year training, the learners will constitute a high-quality labor force for innovative sectors. 

The connected object industry has expanded quickly over the past ten years. Connected wristbands, watches, speakers, and similar tools have become part of our daily life. According to Banque des Territoires, between 2018 and 2019, 2.5 billion connected objects were sold worldwide.  

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech

His professional experience, coupled with his background, helped him create a learning network that guarantees employment. The project has already earned international recognition. 

Combine distance and face-to-face learning to allow access to quality and promising training for thousands of Africans. This is the feat achieved by Cameroonian Yanick Kemayou (photo), through Kabakoo Academies, the EdTech he co-founded in 2019 with Michèle Traoré.

Immediately after its creation, Kabakoo registered more than 12,000 learners. It is a network of learning institutions whose goal is to offset the shortcomings of conventional educational institutions that usually fail to equip students with the skills necessary to get decent jobs immediately after their courses. 

“I decided to create that network because I was once the victim of the shortcomings of conventional educational institutions and the lack of opportunities in Cameroon,” explains Yanick Kemayou, a business administration Ph.D. holder. 

Kabakoo’s pedagogical approach is designed to let learners develop digital fabrication and distributed manufacturing skills.  The goal is not to develop state-of-the-art tech products and solutions for challenges faced by the immediate surrounding. It equips learners to either employ themselves or easily get a job after their courses. 

Through its mobile app, Kabakoo allows access to several courses and mentoring from professionals working in prestigious companies like Google, Deloitte, Orange, and Oracle. The innovative learning model earned Kabakoo the "School of the Future" label, awarded by the World Economic Forum in Davos in December 2019.

Kabakoo is the result of its co-founder Yanick Kemayou’s professional and entrepreneurial experience. He started his professional career in 2008 as an assistant brand manager for L'Oréal in Düsseldorf, Germany.  He later co-founded and managed the fashion company Clothing and Lifestyle Start-up, in Shanghai, China.  Later on, he worked as a visiting scientist at HEC Paris, a research assistant, and a project manager at Paderborn University. 

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

During the coronavirus pandemic, e-education proved its worth. Apart from its practical aspect, it easily allows access to greatly diversified content. Several African countries have thus decided to adopt this teaching mechanism. 

In Cameroon, the Ministries of Secondary and Higher Education will mutualize their education system digitalization efforts. The will was formally expressed last Friday (June 24) during a meeting between Minister of Higher Education Jacques Fame Ndongo and Minister of Secondary Education Nalova Lyonga.  

The two government officials noted the initiatives taken by the government to digitize education through notably the Ministry of Higher Education’s Inter-university network’s supervisory center and the Ministry of Secondary Education’s distance learning center. They then decided to mutualize the said efforts to achieve economies of scale and attain the desired efficiency,” indicates a  release published after the meeting. 

The two ministries will mutualize their infrastructures and digital resources, notably the Ministry of Higher Education’s digital university centers and the Ministry of Secondary Education’s decentralized institutions. They will also build secondary education teachers’ digital pedagogy skills thanks to the IT department of  Cameroon’s teacher training schools. They also decided to regularly assess the collaboration initiated. 

The digitalization of Cameroon’s secondary and higher education systems is part of the education system modernization program contained in the 2030 National Development Strategy. It aims to create learning environments that allow teachers to easily share their knowledge and learners to swiftly pick up knowledge. 

Ruben Tchounyabé

Published in Public Management
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