Microsoft Focusing On e-Learning In Africa

Microsoft Focusing On e-Learning In Africa

in ITNewsAfrica.

Private-public partnerships are needed to pay for universal access to e-learning in Africa, according to a roundtable discussion led jointly by Microsoft and SES at this year’s EU-Africa Business Forum, according to ITNewsAfrica.

Government and private sector representatives attended the discussion at the forum in Brussels including ministries of education, lenders, multilaterals, information technology and telecommunications specialists.

It was an opportunity to discuss affordability and connectivity challenges in the roll-out of e-schools across Africa, ITNewsAfrica reports.

Louis Onyango Otieno, Microsoft’s Africa initiatives legal and corporate affairs director, led the discussion along with Christine Leurquin, vice president of institutional relations for SES, is a global satellite owner and operator based in Luxembourg.

The roundtable resulted in a proposal for an E.U.- pan-African solution that will give schools access to devices, connectivity, and e-learning services.

Devices, connectivity and e-learning services — or lack of them — are the main barriers to
promoting universal access to education, the report said.

The forum provided a platform to open up dialogue between European and African public- and private-sector stakeholders on how to improve access to the Internet, and
related services.

Microsoft is already piloting three solar-powered TV white spaces trials as part of the 4Afrika Initiative with pilots in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. The goal is to provide
cheap broadband access to nearby schools and universities.

Participants addressed the need for financing, infrastructure and resourcing. Critical to meeting this goal is the creation of an enabling policy environment that promotes infrastructure development, access to dynamic spectrum, and online safety and cyber security, the report said.

“The goal of the roundtable is to take away outcomes and solutions that will ultimately help Africa achieve the MDG (Millenium Development Goal) agenda for universal education by advocating for connectivity, access and services that are relevant and affordable,” Otieno said. “Access to capital remains a major obstacle for African businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in and deploy low-cost technologies.”

In February, Microsoft partnered with Intel East Africa and the Kenya Private Schools Alliance, to launch the 4Afrika Youth Device Program, which bundles affordable devices,
educational applications, online services, data plans and smart financing to Kenyan schools and universities.

Other partners include Safaricom, Mitsumi Distribution, Equity Bank and M-Changa — a mobile fund-raising app.