Plenary: Vision, innovation and reality
Chairperson: H.E. Dr. Amr Ezzat Salama, Counselor of the American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt
To what extend does the future of Africa depend on innovation? How and where should Africa innovate? What role has technology in education innovation?
How to make research a reality in Africa?
Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Founder & CEO of RISENetworks, Nigeria
Restarting Africa’s Education Through Tech with Innovation and a Digital Revolution
Technology will now substitute teachers, but will enhance their capabilities and potential. But
Content is king, and context is queen.
Teachers are usually unequipped. That is why they are often so afraid of technology.
On the other hand, a major barrier is access to formal education. But content can flow beyond these barriers. Open content, mobile content can enable mobile learning, thus providing education for children that have difficult access to schools.
But parents — and society in general — are afraid of giving technologies to their children (e.g. so they are not distracted). But this is shutting down the most important gate to content, to education, to knowledge they might have. We know mobile uptake is high between children and teenagers. Technology is there, skills are there, but textbooks and content in general are not.
We should aim at an African education that is mobile, that children can take wherever they are. And a mobile-technology revolution needs teachers.
People should not be limited to learning because of the place they live in.
And again, technology or mobile learning will not replace teachers as e-health has not and will not replace physicians. It’s an enabler, a multiplier, not a substitute.
Dr Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt
Reaching Out to Africa
The Library of Alexandria heavily relies on connectivity: 170,000 lectures online that can be used for free, online events, etc.
EOL.org, the Encyclopaedia of Life, is an online huge database about natural life.
African Networks are communities of practice on many topics enabled by the Library of Alexandria.
STI capacity is essential for development. It is not a luxury: it is a necessity. And we have to translate rhetoric into action.
Toby Shapshak, Editor, Columnist & Strategist, South Africa
What Africa Can Teach You About Innovation that Formal Education Cannot
Many people think that “Africa is rising”, despite it is the “dark continent” in the sense that it has no electricity. Precisely: it is from difficulties that innovation comes, trying to figure out e.g. how to get what you cannot have without electricity.
First you experience the problem, then you find the solution. To do so, you need perspective, which often does not come with education. Education might be a barrier for “thinking outside of the box”. We need to learn skills, not content.
Then you need perseverance.