27th May 2019


Smart Africa and the Beginning of a new era

Smart Africa is a bold and innovative commitment from African heads of state and government to accelerate sustainable socio- economic development on the continent, ushering Africa into a knowledge economy through affordable access to broadband and usage of Information and Communications Technologies.

The Alliance is a framework for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the SMART Africa Manifesto designed to make it actionable. Currently, the Alliance is a partnership bringing together all African countries adhering to the Manifesto represented by the AU, the ITU, World Bank, AfDB, ECA, the GSMA, ICANN and the Private Sector. Besides its initial membership, other organisations and countries sharing the same vision, interests and goals will be admitted to the Alliance.

The SMART Africa Alliance has five pillars which reflect the five principles of the Smart Africa Manifesto: Policy, Access, e-Government, Private Sector/Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development. The pillars are built on four, cross-cutting enablers which will support the implementation of SMART Africa: Innovation, Communications and Advocacy, Capacity Building, and Resource Mobilisation.

The five pillars and four enablers, when effectively developed and combined, will contribute to economic growth and job creation, which remains the ultimate goal of the Smart Africa Manifesto.

Education for all Through Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

The impact of ICT over the last decades has been enormous and the way ICT sectors operate today is vastly different from the ways they operated in the past. The role of ICT in education as we progress into the 21st century is hugely important and will continue to grow. When one looks at education through ICT in Africa, the change has been slower than other sectors have experienced.

Education for all through ICT will have a strong impact on what is learned, how it is learned, when and where learning takes place, who is learning and who is teaching.

The impact of ICT on what is learned

For many years curricula in schools across Africa have been designed around textbooks. Teachers have taught through lectures and presentations interspersed with tutorials and learning activities designed to consolidate and rehearse the content. Now curricula promote competency and performance, starting to emphasise capabilities and to be concerned more with how the information will be used than with what the information is.

The impact of ICT on how students learn

Just as technology is influencing and supporting what is being learned in schools and universities, so too is it supporting changes to the way students are learning. There are particular forms of learning that are gaining prominence in universities and schools, such as the use of the internet as an information source. Internet users are able to choose the experts from whom they will learn.

The impact of ICT on when and where students learn

ICT applications provide many options and choices and many institutions are now creating a competitive edge for themselves through the variety of choices they are offering students.

The impact of ICT on who is learning and who is teaching

Through the affordances and capabilities of technology, today we have an expanded pool of teachers with varying roles who are able to provide support for learners with a variety of flexible settings. Learners and teachers are free to participate and provide learning/teaching activities when time permits, this freedom has greatly increased the opportunities to schedule people’s activities.

The key challenge remains how to expand access to education at all levels, to improve the quality of education and to strengthen the relevance of education to the labour market. The “Education for all through- ICT initiative” is therefore at the forefront of the 21st century economy and represents a challenge that Smart Africa is happy to embrace.

You can read more from Smart Africa in the Summer issue of International Investor Magazine.