Two weeks ago, APIE's ICT & Monitoring Manager, Stephen Odara, attended the Transform Africa Summit. The purpose of the Summit is to foster constructive conversation towards building a Smart Africa, bringing together change-makers to accelerate socio-economic transformation. APIE works hard to ensure our developments at the local level echo the advances made on a wider scale, and with that in mind, Stephen went along to see what it was all about...his thoughts are below.
The Transform Africa Summit 2017 (TAS2017) was held in Kigali from 9th to 12th of May 2017. First held in 2013 in Kigali, the conference brings together different stakeholders in the development of the African continent. The conference focuses on the potential and use of ICT to accelerate the development of the African and of African countries. This year's conference covered various topics including ICT infrastructural limitations and solutions, safety, security, data science, entrepreneurship, inter-communication (East Africa is the first region in the world where roaming is free) and the gender digital divide, amongst others. The theme for the conference this year was Building Smart Cities; a smart city blueprint was launched by the Hon. Minister of Youth and ICT of the Republic of Rwanda. Many African delegates had the chance to marvel at the Smart City Kigali is fast becoming.
The digital gender divide was given particular attention. It was noted that because girls have to do most of the domestic chores they often miss out opportunities to engage with ICT, and with it the benefits that accrue to ICT including education and knowledge. The President of Rwanda noted that “The ICT digital divide in Africa was primarily existent because of gender in-equality”, and that it was therefore the ICT digital divide would vanish if gender equality was established. There was a Ms. Geek competition encouraging girls to embrace ICT and an Ideation Challenge with the winner taking home 3 million RWF (~3500 USD) and other prizes for runners up.
At the conference I interacted with several delegates and shared ideas about usage of ICT in education to aid learning with a focus on our model of using phones and tablets to deliver learning applications. I was particularly impressed by a case of usage of iPads in Malawi by onebillion. Children access material based on an automatic evaluation of their potential from their answers to a set of questions. I was told all the children that access the material are able to pass, due to the differentiated learning, and that their software is proprietary, which is the logic behind using iPads only.
For me, TAS2017 was an opportunity to reflect on the usage of ICT at our school and its potential for the future. At APIE we are aware that there are a lot of opportunities that ICT presents that can be used to improve the ICT literacy of our young students. It also became clear to me that we have to create a blueprint that encompasses the new competence based curriculum and is comprehensive enough to be adopted for use.