Kigali (RWA), April 2022 - African countries should "seize the moment" and "take advantage of a historic opportunity for massive, long-term, sustainable economic growth," according to Rwanda's Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire. And Rwandan Education Minister, Dr Valentine Uwamariya, warned that "failing to focus now on education, training, and technology would be unforgivable."
Both ministers made their comments in advance of this year’s eLearning Africa, as political leaders, education experts, and investors from all over the world prepare to head to Rwanda for the event. eLA 2022, one of the continent's first major global, in-person conferences since the start of the Covid pandemic, is scheduled to take place in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, 11-13 May.
Ms Ingabire said, "Africa is now at a crucial moment in its development. The creation of ACFTA, the African single market, is an unprecedented opportunity to transform the fortunes of our continent and its people. We can leapfrog other countries and regions. We have a chance to bring real prosperity to Africa, but we have to take the necessary steps to prepare ourselves and our people.
"Above all, this means investing in the combination of education and ICT and ensuring that our people have the skills necessary for the markets of the future. Information and Communications technology can spread the benefits of education and training to the remotest parts of our continent. In the wake of the Covid pandemic and an economic downturn, every African government should now focus relentlessly on its education and ICT strategy. That is what will make the African Union's 2063 Vision a reality."
Dr Uwamariya explained, "Africa has reached a crossroads. Now we face a choice. Let us seize the moment and take advantage of the best chance we'll ever have as a continent. This means waking up to the opportunity that ACFTA represents for all Africans. It means making the most of the fact that Africa has a dynamic, youthful, growing population - a real reservoir of human resources and talent. It means planning, cooperating, and investing in technology-assisted learning and training so that we can spread the benefits of education and provide the new skills that are vital for the workforce of the future. Failing to focus now on education, training, and technology would be unforgivable."
She added that she was delighted that the first eLearning Africa conference after the pandemic will be held in Rwanda. "eLearning Africa and the opportunity it brings for dialogue among key stakeholders is so important. This conference, and the ministerial roundtable taking place at it, will give us a chance to focus our attention on how we can all work together, as a continent and as a global community, to use technology-assisted learning to boost growth and bring lasting change and prosperity."
Conference founder, Rebecca Stromeyer, said that the conference is attracting "huge" levels of interest and support. "People are delighted that we're going ahead again. For our network of experts and professionals from all over the world, it's going to be like a giant family gathering! They're all looking forward to seeing each other and to making new friends and contacts. And we've had an enormous amount of interest from the corporate sector, including some of the biggest names in global edTech. Africa is the place to be right now for investors in education and technology."
Ms Stromeyer said that it had not been difficult to persuade people to come to the conference, in spite of their experience over the past two years. "There is a widespread awareness of the fact that Rwanda has coped really well with the pandemic. Our participants will be well looked after in a superb conference location, and we're looking forward to seeing them for what promises to be a very significant event."
eLearning Africa is accompanied by an exhibition featuring products, services, and courses offered by some of the world's leading producers and providers. The conference itself offers a wide variety of opportunities for discussion, knowledge sharing, and networking in the form of plenary sessions, workshops, seminars, and debates.
It also hosts a ministerial roundtable, at which ministers of ICT and education, together with officials and advisers, discuss emerging themes with experts, academics, and representatives of companies and organisations from around the world. The theme for this year's roundtable is "A New Purpose for Education", and it will consider the practical challenges facing African countries, the implications of a single market, and the contribution Africa can make to global learning and providing solutions to global problems.
"Africa has so much to do and so much to give," says Ms Ingabire. "We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to Rwanda for this historic conference."