The plenary sessions from eLearning Africa 2015 included presentations from a range of political leaders, entrepreneurs and educators from Africa and around the world. Under the overall conference theme ‘Enriching Tomorrow’, keynote speakers informed and inspired audiences with the latest ideas, best practices and innovations that are shaping the future of education across the continent. Here is our roundup of some of eLearning Africa 2015’s memorable keynote quotes.
The opening plenary of the conference was chaired by Seyoum Bereded, President of ICT-ET, Ethiopia, and saw a panel of esteemed speakers highlight issues ranging from the socio-economic development of Africa, the significance of smartphones and tablets to the future of education in the continent and the need to guard the open nature of the internet.
Noah Samara, Chairman and CEO, Yazmi, USA
“Yazmi is a proven system, ready to effectively and economically provide abundant support to teachers and students across the continent. We are looking to partner with governments, civil society and the private sector to roll out our solution. In Africa, we say: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ We want to go far. We want to do it with you.”
Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, USA
“I think we need a movement that says web literacy is absolutely an essential piece of how we imagine education empowerment and the future of human society […] I believe an internet that is made by all of us is something worth protecting and also I believe it is something that will unlock much of what we’re trying to do in the pursuit of knowledge, the pursuit of education, and the pursuit of a just and equitable human society.”
Günter Nooke, Personal Representative for Africa to the German Chancellor, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany
His Excellency Mr. Erasrus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission
“ICTs remain a central stimulus of socio-economic development, and the future of our society is going to be determined significantly by the definitive strides and inroads we are able to make in harnessing new, creative technologies and innovation.”
His Excellency Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ethiopia
“For Ethiopia, the utilisation of ICT aims at accelerating development, sustaining growth and promoting the process of democratisation while, at the same time, reducing the national level of poverty. To this end, the government has been pursuing and implementing various sound and workable policies and strategies with a view to expanding the horizon of information and communications technology so as to play a pivotal role in the enhancement of the social, political and economic development of the country.”
The Thursday Plenary focused on the current state and future of higher education in Africa. Chaired by Dr Mesfin Belachew, Technical Advisor to the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Ethiopia, the plenary examined Ethiopia’s recent approach to higher education and also focused on the capacity for eLearning to overcome the major problems of accessibility and employability in African education.
Dr Samuel Kifle, Director General of Higher Education Administration Affairs at the Ministry of Education, Ethiopia
“Universities are doing a lot to nurture the talent and intellectual capacity of their students. Now universities have business incubation centres, where students can experiment to see if their ideas can hold water in the real world, where their ideas can be visibly commercialised, technically produced and can make a difference when used by society. This will give graduates the opportunity not to wait for jobs but rather to make their own businesses, to be employers rather than employees for others.”
Shai Reshef, President & Founder of University of the People, USA
“There are two major challenges for higher education; accessibility and employability – opening the gates of higher education for all qualified students, and after we do that, making sure that the education they get is relevant for the job market. This problem is huge and without serving it, the continent cannot make the great leap it hopes to do to catch up with the developed world.”
Dr Eleni Gabre-Madhin, Chief Executive Officer of eleni, Ethiopia
“When we embarked on this exercise in Ethiopia, we were going to build a market for the little guys, not a market for the suits […] but rather a market that anybody can use in Ethiopia – the smallest farmer and the smallest retailer.”
“It’s not really about building a technology per se, nor is it about having the right business processes, but it’s really about bringing the people along and having a very important people focus as we build these systems.”
The Friday Plenary saw speakers from Ethiopia, Egypt and Cameroon reflect on the changing face of education and ICT in their respective countries. Chaired by Dr Aida Opoku-Mensah from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and an Honorary Committee Member eLearning Africa 2015, the panel highlighted how technology is being used to improve education and foster entrepreneurialism.
His Excellency Mr. Mahamouda Ahmed Gaas, State Minister of Science and Technology, Ethiopia
“The key pillars of knowledge are ICT, education, science, technology and innovation. The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has started to invest its biggest share of GDP in the education system, from basic education to higher education, and in universal access to education for all.”
Rebecca Enonchong, Founder and CEO of AppsTech, Cameroon
“In Cameroon, in the last year, we’ve had a start-up raise 1.3 million dollars through venture funding, we’ve had another raise 240 thousand dollars through crowdfunding, and just three start-ups have generated 150 jobs. Those are real jobs and that’s real impact […] we always talk about the Africa of tomorrow but these tech entrepreneurs are working with the Africa of today, and we’re building jobs and creating jobs today.”
Dr Noha Adly, First Deputy to the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Egypt
“There has been a total shift in the role of the teacher. There is no longer learning by memorisation and one way of conveying information. Now it is about communicating, it is about being an enabler, and this is where we should be developing their skills and providing them with the tools to do that.”