Leonard Mware works for the spread of communication and information technologies throughout Africa, but especially in Kenya and East Africa, where he directs the African subsidiary of ICWE, organisers of the eLearning Africa conferences. Delighted with the recent progress, he warns in an interview with Christine Cayré that the propagation of technologies has to be backed by a genuine demand for new technology. “Things can change so quickly in Africa! The developments must be accessible to the greatest number of people, but without any compromise on quality.” He says the key challenge is training. More precisely… eLearning.
By Christine Cayré
My interview with Leonard Mware takes place at 6 p.m. Kenyan time. I am in Johannesburg, where it is 4 p.m., but thanks to the Internet I feel we are face to face with each other.
[callout title=]Leonard Mware …directs ICWE Africa Ltd. Its mission is to develop the activities of the company on the African continent.
Previously, he worked as an independent consultant for the World Bank and DFID supporting the Kenyan Ministry of Education. He also put his skills in information technology to use in the private sector, in particular for BBC Worldwide Interactive Learning in the United Kingdom. Until recently, he coordinated the eLearning programme at the Maseno and Multimedia Universities in Kenya.
Leonard Mware possesses in-depth knowledge in the fields of IT, ICT and engineering, coupled with skills as a lecturer and trainer. At Multimedia University (formerly Kenya College of Communication Technology), he successfully introduced ‘eDegree’ programmes.
Leonard has great experience in management and in national and international integrated marketing campaigns that combine media relations, publicity, web site coordination and event management.
His travels have taken him across the world from Asia through Europe and to North America. Leonard holds a masters degree in Information Systems from the University of Sunderland in England.[/callout]
When I draw attention to the quality of the connection, Mware sings the praises of the new submarine cables and fibre-optics that supply Kenya with broadband. “It represents considerable progress. Three providers are now competing with one another, all to the benefit of the service. The way has been opened to multiple new opportunities. We can now play alongside the big boys in many fields.”
He quotes the title of Thomas L. Friedman’s book on the levelling impact of information technology – “The World is Flat” – and reminds me there is no longer any need to call the United States to influence the course of events. The whole world now has cards to play in the great games.
Anything is Possible
In the course of his career, Leonard Mware spent some time in Tokyo. It was an experience which certainly left its mark on him. “The Japanese started with nothing and they have done incredible things, especially in the technological field. They succeeded because of their early grasp of the importance of public-private partnerships in infrastructure development.”
This leads him to believe that anything is possible, in Japan as well as elsewhere, and on the African continent in particular. “It will take longer in Africa, but things are changing now.”
[callout title=]Fatou Ndiaye …joined ICWE in September 2010 and is in charge of developing the company’s activities in French-speaking Africa.
The body of your callout goes here.For Fatou, who conducted a large part of her studies in Europe, eLearning offers an educational opportunity for African students hampered by the difficulty of obtaining travel visas.
After several years in France and Germany, Fatou returned to Africa to set up an ICWE subsidiary in Senegal. Her primary mission is to create contacts and partnerships to bring together stakeholders from the world of eLearning.
“Although I am involved in ICWE conferences such as eLearning Africa and Online Educa Berlin, we at ICWE also make our organisational skills available for other events.”[/callout]
He emphasises the key elements necessary for success: infrastructure, visionary political choices and development of every potential. In his view, public-private partnerships are also an absolute necessity because it is impossible for governments to be involved in everything.
Mobilising eLearning Players
Before joining ICWE, Leonard Mware spent many years as a lecturer, then put his expertise into the field of ICT and eLearning for various organisations and companies. Today he participates in designing and organising events that highlight the role of ICT in teaching and training in Africa.
He stresses the importance of his career as a lecturer. “I have not forgotten where I came from. It gives me practical reference points.”
Today he leads a team of four who listen to the specific needs of Africa, create productive meetings and encourage those involved in eLearning to share their experiences.
Quality at the Centre of Discussion
Leonard Mware is enthusiastic about the opportunities that are presenting themselves in Africa. “With the advances in technology, eLearning is becoming a reality and is growing to its full capacity. Its future is immense. Africans must be informed and be aware of everything that is now possible.”
He calls for vigilance about content and the way in which it is transmitted.
He also insists on the need for teachers to challenge themselves and integrate new teaching methods. “In the next edition of the eLearning Africa conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, quality will be one of the central themes, and we anticipate several discussions on this subject.”
For more information on ICWE Africa Ltd, please go to www.icwe.co.ke