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Ethiopian entrepreneurs rival the ‘chalk and talk’

Eskinder Mamo from AhadooTec after signing MOU to work with UNESCO IICBA
Eskinder Mamo from AhadooTec after signing MOU to work with UNESCO IICBA

Entrepreneurs Eskinder Mamo and Amanuel Abrha were born and raised in Ethiopia, but after completing their higher education in Europe have since been based in Berlin, Germany. After the successful launch of their IT and business consulting startup, they are now determined to use their experience abroad to help contribute to the development of their country of origin.

By Kwesi Brako

Mamo and Abrha have been honing their expertise through their startup AhadooTec, designing and developing software solutions for the web and mobile platforms, as well as providing IT and business consulting to help others “raise the competitiveness of their business.”

Through AhadooTec they have been able to recently launch their ambitious project aimed at improving the access and quality of education in Ethiopia by using creative IT solutions – this, they say, is where they can have the most impact.

“As Ethiopian diaspora members living in Germany, Eskinder and I have been always been interested in how to contribute in an impactful way to Ethiopia. Founding AhadooTec has allowed us both to reconnect with our home country, as well as be part of a vibrant business environment, in particular in the IT sector,” AhadooTec’s co-founder and computer engineer Amanuel Abrha says.

“One of our impact projects, Fidel (Amharic for word ‘alphabet’), is a personalised and playful learning platform for secondary school students which enables collaborative learning on multi-platforms (web and mobile). We believe Fidel can help millions of African students get better qualifications and thus improve their career prospects.”

Fidel enables students to access free learning materials, prepare for exams, track their learning progress and collaborate with their peers in a playful way. Abrha says the platform encourages learning outside of the classroom environment, while also teaching students 21st century skills, such as collaboration, communication, problem solving, self-direction and technology fluency.

“We focus on offline usage and cross-platform functionality in order to enable access to as many students as possible. Furthermore, the focus is on localised content as well as teacher training,” Mamo told eLearning Africa, adding that: “As the first of its kind in Ethiopia Fidel helps to increase student’s motivation as well as improve access and quality of education, in a country where chalk and talk still dominate.”

Whereas some would question the wisdom of being based in Europe, while aiming to craft IT and business solutions that fit the experience and sensibilities of the Ethiopian people in Eastern Africa, Abrha explains how they use this to their distinct advantage.

“Being based in Europe you will find great infrastructure, whether it’s fast and reliable Internet or startup support mechanisms. However, it’s difficult to live in Germany and develop solutions for the African context. That’s why we have set up our team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.”

With their team based in Addis Ababa, they can take a boots on the ground approach to working out creative web and mobile solutions for the modern day Ethiopian students, while still learning from the European startup landscape.

Fidel has been in beta since May 2014. At eLearning Africa 2015 Eskinder Mamo will present findings of the evaluation of the web and mobile application, their challenges, and experience collaborating with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

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