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The African Real Estate & Infrastructure Summit taking place on the 25 - 26 October 2017 at The Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg


Rapid urbanisation is at the top of Africa’s urban agenda. With the population expected to double by 2050, the demand for infrastructure, housing, transport and fundamental facilities is expected to increase.

This exclusive conference focussing on urban development, mobility, technology, finance and investment and housing on the African continent will see high-level delegates discuss the various challenges and opportunities within the real estate and infrastructure sectors.  
Key questions that need answering are how can African cities develop to become more sustainable, resilient and inclusive centres of economic growth? And how can we foster a better understanding between public and private sectors to create more functional cities? 
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Today, new technologies including information communication technology (ICT) and e-learning have become the driving force in the education sector in Kenya. E-learning is very important in helping people to access education easily. It allows learners to carry out their daily activities and learn at the same time.


edtech


In the modern world, lifelong learning is becoming an important concept. In this context, people have to advance their skills to fit in the dynamic work places.
E-learning allows one to advance their skills without taking long work leaves.

As the African society continually embrace modern technology, traditional forms of pedagogy in higher learning institutions are failing to meet the societal needs.

The Situation of e-Learning in East Africa
The rise of mobile technology in Africa has become one of the most revolutionary steps in the recent technological growth.  Many people are now using smartphones and iPhones. Major communication companies like Safaricom and Telkom Kenya are providing a stable connection to the internet.
The Kenyan government has also made a major step in installing fibre optic connections to major cities across the nation. Thus, fast and stable internet connection has motivated many people to embrace e-learning as a new method of learning.

E-learning policies in the Kenyan universities are at its infant-stage. Majority of these institutions lack senate approved e-learning policies to guide the needed structured implementation, thus, only 32% of the lecturers and 35% of students use e-learning in Kenya. Besides, the number of online courses offered is approximately 10% of all the courses.
The nature of the material used in this form of learning is not interactive as it entails uploaded lecture notes. For instance, 87% of the materials used in online lectures are simply lecturing notes.
In this regard, it becomes apparent that most of the universities in Kenya and East Africa at large lack a requisite ICT infrastructure and skills. However, a number of private and public universities have made tremendous steps towards implementing e-learning technology. Fewer institutions that have used e-learning have proved it to be a successful mode and that the benefits outweigh the challenges.

In Tanzania, the case is similar to Kenya. The implementation of e-learning is still low despite various opportunities provided by the open source technology and supportive environment facilitated by the government. However, some institutions like Dar Es Salaam University have managed to implement e-learning platforms as WEBCT and Blackboard. These platforms are e-learning proprietary software. Other universities such as the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) and Mzumbe University have good ICT structures, but the implementation of e-learning is still minimal.

Successful Cases of e-Learning
Can e-learning be a successful learning method in (East) Africa? The answer to this question is yes.
There are some Africans who have gathered enough courage to use e-learning and achieved their higher degrees successfully. These examples are a proof that e-learning can be an effective method of learning in East Africa.

E-learning success story #1: Dr. Henry Barasa
Dr. Henry Barasa is a good example of a physics student who used e-learning to complete his Master's degree.
Being a full-time lecturer in Masinde Muliro University in Kakamega town, Barasa did not have enough time to pursue his Master's Degree. He enrolled for a Master's in Atomic Physics in Dar Es Salaam University in Tanzania. Through WEBCT, Barasa could access all the required learning materials; communicate with lecturers and other students. He also accessed all exams through the online platform.
A thought-provoking aspect is that he never took an education leave, but managed to balance the two. For the case of experiments, he carried them out from Kenya and sent results online.
The case of Henry Barasa shows the effectiveness of e-learning, and thus, Kenyans can embrace this new method of learning and acquire their degrees as they continue with their work. Even for the case of higher degrees, it is possible to attain them through e-learning.

E-learning success story #2: Kelvin Omondi
Kelvin Omondi is another example of an effective e-learning. Having been brought up in the Mathare slums, his parents did not have the ability to take him to a good high school. Through a Nairobi-based organization, he got a chance to attend a national high school and pass well in his studies.
But, he lacked the financial capacity to complete his degree in Bachelor of Commerce at Kenyatta University. However, the University had established an online learning program, which was cheaper. Kelvin opted for this option.
The university provided him with an iPhone, which he used to access his learning material. The study program provided him with an option to work and learn. He managed to raise his university fee and graduated with a second upper-class degree.
From this example, other Africans can learn that e-learning is an effective method of learning that the poor can use to access quality education. Most of the Africans have poor backgrounds; hence, lack the ability to access higher education. However, e-learning is an effective method since it is cheaper as it only entails tuition-fee. Learners can raise the fee through part-time and full-time jobs.

E-learning success story #3: Rashid Mihamud
Rashid Muhamud is another example of a learner who completed his diploma through an e-learning program. Rashid comes from Mwanza town in Tanzania.
Just like Kelvin, he had inadequate resources to access higher education. He managed to raise some money from odd jobs, which he used to purchase a smart phone. He later enrolled in an e-learning diploma program with Dar Es Salaam University.
Despite the fact that he was a hawker, he managed to raise money for his tuition fee. Who could think that a hawker can finance his university education? It seems an impossible case, but e-learning has made it possible for Rashid.
Currently, he owns a private company that employs over fifteen youths.
This example shows that e-learning is the most effective method that can promote access to effective learning even to the poor. Precisely, it is a cheap way of learning that Africans can embrace to transform their lives. In this regard, it is evident that this new form of learning has helped some Africans to overcome learning challenges.
M-learning is one of the relatively new applications which use the new internet and mobile phone based technologies to improve the access to some basic needs or skills, such as medical education, app based language learning or cheap online money transfers.

Since distance education plays such an important role in the further development of the African education systems, more and more regional African edtech providers offer locally adapted products, such as online courses or tutoring. Many of these African startups are presented on apps-for-learning.com.

Online courses – Boost your skills now!
For more information about this important and exciting educational market, visit my apps-for-learning.com site. Alternatively, if you wish, contact me directly today: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Whether you are a student or teaching professional, we specialize in mobile education within Africa and will be pleased to help you with your enquiry.

By the way: If you are a medical student, try online medical courses as wonderful support for your medical exam preparation! They have a proven record.

Enjoy the article and let me know what you think by posting your comment below. I would be grateful if you also and share this post with friends and colleagues.

Your e-learning and online courses specialist,

Jens Ischebeck, www.apps-for-learning.com

More and more learners are turning to online courses that enable them to participate in primary, secondary and tertiary education over the web and at a distance from campus. Debates rage over how best to implement e-learning, particularly in regions such as Sub-Sahara Africa which are ripe for educational reform. In this article, I explain how blended learning works and why it is the ideal choice for the African continent. Finally, I formulate some effective strategies for rolling out these types of distance education schemes in Africa. This article will be of interest to anyone who wishes to learn more about the latest developments in edtech, and it is relevant both to teachers and lecturers and to learners themselves, as well as being of value to anyone running or wishing to set up an edtech company in Africa.
Edtech Africa

The educational situation in Africa: where we stand now.
I contend that the educational system in Africa is ripe for reform, both in terms of the physical infrastructure by means of which educational content is delivered and in terms of the ways in which education is theorised and spoken about. The main reason for the urgent need for educational reform in Africa is that the continent is full of a huge amount of young and ambitious learners (and potential learners) who are nevertheless facing some powerful barriers to achieving a traditional education. The UN has estimated that Africa has a very 'youthful population', with over 200 million people currently living on the continent who are aged between 18 and 34. As the UN highlights in this study, this immense youthful population could be a source of great opportunity: these young learners could become the doctors, scientists, writers and engineers of the future. However, the UN notes, the continent's youthful population is being allowed to stagnate as a lack of jobs and educational opportunities, as well as a pressure to give up educational goals in order to feed or care for family members, are forcing younger people to lose the opportunities that should rightfully be theirs. The problem is particularly acute in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where huge swathes of youths are joining rebel groups as they lack the educational and career related opportunities that might motivate them to study or take up a trade.
Another huge problem is the lack of educational infrastructure available, and also the lack of high quality transport infrastructure that would enable learners to reach their school classroom in order to receive lessons in the first place. Though Africa is home to some of the world's top universities (for instance the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Nairobi), however in some of the continent's nations (such as Niger) there is just a single university - or no tertiary education provided at all. Even in the wealthier country of South Africa, schools have been deemed to be lacking the necessary infrastructure to implement the nation's admirable educational policies. The situation is worse in Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly in rural or desert areas where children and young people have practically no means of reaching a school in order to participate in conventional classroom teaching on a regular basis.
On the upside, however, Africa is a continent that is highly internet literate. It often surprises my readers when they learn that even in the poorest parts of Africa, 70% of citizens own a mobile phone and that in general, communities in Sub-Sahara Africa are more likely to have an internet connection than to have adequate supplies of food and water. In addition, young Africans are particularly engaged and entrepreneurial when it comes to developing and downloading smartphone apps. Though, when compared to statistics for app downloads in the rest of the world, the app market in Africa remains relatively untapped.
Currently, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya are the biggest app downloaders on the continent. The challenge is to stimulate and develop this trend so that it also takes root in Sub-Sahara Africa.

All of this data on the current situation in Africa indicates that online learning (embracing everything from MOOC to m-learning based around smartphone apps, and from e-learning conducted via videostreamed lectures to other types of online courses) is the way forward for Africa. If implemented correctly, e-learning strategies could surmount all of the infrastructure related difficulties described above and provide educational opportunities to Africa's large - and growing - youthful population, as well as to adult learners who missed out on primary and/ or secondary education in their youths. The crucial thing is to implement MOOC and other e-learning strategies correctly, and my research suggests that blended learning is the best way to do this. Accordingly, let us now turn to an evaluation of blended learning strategies: what they consist of and how they can help Africans to learn.
Blended learning: a working definition.
Blended learning means a mixture of classical learning strategies and online education measures. As its name indicates, it is a 'blend' of online and offline learning techniques. One example of blended learning would be a university campus that allows students to stream some of their lectures online from any location that they please, but also requires them to attend weekly seminars on campus. Another blended learning strategy might combine online and offline distance education, whereby students are encouraged to access online resources in order to conduct their research but also allowed to submit essays and assessments and receive feedback by post. These are just two examples of the ways in which different educational methods can be blended with each other. When implementing a blended learning strategy, the important thing is to ensure that the blend is specifically tailored to suit the needs of the individual learners and their environments. Video streamed lectures are less necessary in a university where students all live on campus and transport infrastructure to and from the university is good - in fact, providing lectures that can be accessed online might have the effect of demotivating such students and depriving them of access to a readily available embodied classroom experience. However, this type of distance education tool is perfect for learners in very remote areas who would find it impossible to attend the lectures in person.
What are the current conditions like in educational institutions in African countries?
Conditions in schools and universities vary widely from country to country. In Nairobi University, for instance, students can partake of numerous offline and online facilities, including a good quality ICT architecture that is available 24/7, sports halls, dedicated examination centres and a health centre. Here, edtech would be expected to build on and develop (as well as to transform) an existing flourishing set of already blended learning facilities. By contrast, primary and secondary schools in the Eastern Cape lack even basic latrine facilities - let alone good quality learning materials (whether printed or digital). In these schools, which can typically have 90 pupils being taught by one single educator, distance education and the admixture of some digital learning facilities would ease the pressure on individual teachers and enable pupils to learn in peace, away from overcrowded classrooms that can actually impede learning.
Which conditions are necessary for blended learning to have the best effect?
The answer to this question follows intuitively from the discussion above. For blended learning to have a positive and useful effect on African communities as a bare minimum they will need a curriculum and trained educators to deliver it, as well as a digital learning strategy that is tailored to suit the needs of the individual class or even single learners. In particular, the digital aspects of a blended educational strategy ought to be geared towards meeting any deficiencies in the provision of offline learning at any given establishment (for instance, lack of infrastructure). Digital learning strategies ought to be ambitious, future proofed, forward thinking and designed to give learners the best quality education, no matter what their circumstances.

A summary: why is a blend of online courses and classical educational infrastructure beneficial in Sub Saharan Africa?
Sub Saharan Africa is one of the most important regions when it comes to the rollout of blended educational strategies. This is where the continent's poorest communities are concentrated, where educational infrastructure is often poor in quality or non existent, and thus where well developed MOOC, e-learning and m-learning strategies can be expected to provide the most dramatic benefits and positive changes.

In sum, a blended approach to education will vastly benefit this poorer region of Africa because it will:
  • Make up for poor educational infrastructure
  • Make up for poor transport infrastructure
  • Relieve teachers who are often tasked with educating overcrowded classrooms
  • Provide learners with innovative education from international universities and educators across the globe, that is thus not dependent on their region
  • Empower poorer communities
  • Motivate learners to focus on career and educational goals instead of joining rebel groups or engaging in similar activities
  • Open up the possibility of new and exciting career opportunities for learners, on an international level
  • Enable older citizens who initially missed out on primary, secondary or tertiary education, to gain an education from home
  • Support African entrepreneurship

Find out more today!

Achieving the right blend of digital and traditional, of online and offline learning, will provide a potent solution for learners and educators in Africa. As we have seen, apps are one of the most effective tools available for blended learning and they should be a vital part of any blended educational plan. Visit http://www.apps-for-learning.com/ now to find out more!

Information Technology (IT) is a business sector dealing with computing and includes software, hardware, telecommunications and everything relating to transmission of information. It includes the management of data in various forms such as voice, text, image, audio among other forms. Since information technology is involved in the transmission of data, the internet becomes one of its key components. The main areas of information technology include;
IT In Africa

Data Storage
Early electronic computers such as colossus used punched tapes were essentially long strips of paper on which data was represented by a series of holes. The Williams tube was the first random access digital storage device. It was based on a cathode ray tube but the information stored on it needed to be refreshed often and would be lost when power was disconnected. The first hard disk drive was introduced by IBM in 1956. Today, most data is stored digitally on hard disks, digital magnetic tapes, and optical devices.
Databases
Database management systems gained significance in the 1960s as an alternative storage for large amounts of data. Their advantage is that they allow quick and accurate retrieval of the data. The first database was the IBM’s information management system which is still widely used today. In 1980, Oracle created the first commercially available relational database management system. Database management systems allow many users to access data simultaneously without compromising its integrity.
Data transmission
Data transmission involves three concepts: transmission, reception, and propagation. There are two broad categories. There is broadcasting which involves the unidirectional downstream transmission of data and telecommunications which involving bidirectional downstream and upstream channels. Beginning early 2000s, extensible markup language (XML) has been increasingly used as a means of data interchange. This is particularly so for machine oriented interactions like the ones involved in web oriented protocols like SOAP. One of the challenges in data transmission is in the conversion of data in relational databases into XML document oriented model structures.
Data manipulation
Massive amounts of data are generated and stored across the world every day. However, unless this data can be manipulated to give useful insights to people in different sectors who need it, it will remain useless and lying in “data tombs.” To deal with this problem, data mining technology which involves the process of interesting trends and patterns in large amounts of data has emerged since the 1980s.
Data retrieval
Structured query language (SQL) is programming language independent and based on relational algebra. It was introduced by relational database model. It should be noted that the terms data and information, though commonly used interchangeably are different. While data is in storage form, it becomes information when organized and presented meaningfully. Today, most data is unstructured and stored in different physical formats even within the same organization. In the 1980s, data warehouses started being developed to integrate the existing disparate stores.
Stay connected for news and articles on the IT industry in Africa, if you work in IT, and you have great ideas to share with us, please send in your articles. http://www.networkafrica.com/p/submit-post.html
Medical education in Africa has significantly evolved over the years. From the time when there were only 5 medical schools in the region, to the expansion era after African countries achieved independence and now when the medical education structure is making efforts in providing mhealth programmes for students.

Online Courses in Africa


Online courses have great potential of improving healthcare in Sub-Sahara Africa. However, the medical education department has had to face challenges including occasional cases of corruption, pandemics, civil unrest, famine and deficiency of resources dragging the progress.
Still, the 21st century has seen many developments in medical education, with the increment of medical schools, improvement of facilities and the curriculum, adapting to a more practical approach and the availability of more scholarships. Nowadays, the healthcare workforce in Sub-Sahara Africa is significantly greater, which translates into a healthier population and better health disasters management.
Whether you are considering joining medical school in Sub-Sahara Africa or being a stake holder in the sector, it is a worthy pursuit. Here is more detailed information about the state of all aspects of medical education, including mhealth, in this part of the world.

African Youth and e-learning.

It is important to note that now more than ever, African countries are turning to online platforms for information and assistance (9th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education & Training, 2014). E-learning materials, including video and audio, are vital in providing skills and information for the continent's population (Iyadunni Olubode, Executive Director LEAP, 2014).

Fast forward to today, 81% of the population are mobile subscribers, 29% are internet users and 14% are active on social media(Digital In Africa 2017, Hootsuite). For Africans to be able to access distance education of medicine and mhealth care and support, more people have to be active internet users.

Health-affiliated phone practices of young people in Sub-Sahara AfricaMajor Challenges
  • Calling for practical and material help during times of sickness or emergencies.
  • Seeking health tips, first aid advice and information on medicines, symptoms and reproductive health.
  • Make enquiries and bookings on medical schools and health stations that have official platforms like website and online courses.

Recurrence of fatal diseases

Unfortunate events like the West African Ebola epidemic which is the most critical in the history of the disease, could have been better managed, if only there were enough doctors. 8,037 people succumbed to the Ebola virus in 2014 (WHO figures, 2014). Lack of information on the symptoms and causes of infection and prevention is one of the reasons why the killer disease spread so fast.

The Ebola epidemic is just one example of how important it is to have a huge health workforce. The lack of enough doctors meant over-shared medical services and little medical education on the disease, for the everyday citizen. For the state of public health to improve in Sub-Sahara Africa, more people have to be medically aware by using universal methods like e-learning. Also, the number of people pursuing medicine has to significantly increase, with m-learning being a brilliant compliment to classroom studies.

Other examples of major diseases that occur too often are; malaria, strokes, HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections and diarrhoea.

Education System: South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya in comparison

Now more than ever, the world is faced with health inequities. In Sub-Sahara Africa, the medical education system is still not in a state where it can produce enough doctors to serve the big population. Deficient budgetary resources, capacity gaps, attitudes, insufficient physical infrastructure and social and cultural practices are examples of things that are making it hard to educate enough doctors in SSA.

Even in countries where there is a considerable number of schools, those institutions lack the capacity to produce a significant number of doctors.

South Africa has eight medical schools with each being under the auspices of Public Universities. The number of schools of health in S.A might not be as many as in developed countries but the country is strict when it comes to licensing and regulating doctors. For example, after successfully completing studies, medical graduates are required to attend a two-year internship and one year of community service, before registering with the Health Professions Council and practising as a doctor. South Africa also offers international exams like USMLE and MCAT.

In Nigeria, improvements in medical education are still underway. For instance, medical students will be required to attend University for a minimum of 10 to 11 years. (Executive Secretary NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie, 2016). According to the system, students are supposed to spend four years studying basic sciences, then major into their desired field in medicine for seven years. Many have argued against this policy, citing that 11-year programmes may not be affordable to all people interested in studying medicine.

Kenya has a significant number of medical students, considering the size of their 'Approved Medical Schools' list. There are about 11 institutions that offer medical courses in Kenya. There are also Kenya Medical Training Colleges almost in every county, with some counties hosting multiple KMTCs. Some groups like Community Health Promotions Kenya (CHPK) have also been coming up in attempts of popularising the online courses and idea of 'IT for medical education.'

Medical education in Sub-Sahara is promising. In fact, it is in the process of breaking out of its shell to reach its full potential. However, the governments of African countries need to collaborate effectively with medical staff, stake holders and other medical bodies to reduce the occurrence of strikes. Institutions that offer medical training should embrace edtech and e-learning methods like live webinars, e-books and online courses and revision of exams.

The administering of 'common' exams is also a way of closing the gaps on health, globally. African countries like Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria do the International Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)is available in most African countries, with Egypt, Uganda and Zimbabwe making the list.

Can distance education cause significant improvements in medical courses in Sub-Sahara?

Yes. Almost everything is possible with just an internet connection, in the 21st century. If people can make long-term relationships, sell and buy items, self-publish books, gamble and excel in careers that are solely online, why shouldn't medical education be available via the web? The Masters of Medicine can start being part of the solution by making their courses. lessons and learning and revision materials available online. Video lectures, consultations and e-distribution of learning tools psychologically prepare the medical students for their profession. Nowadays, it is also easier for students to refer to notes and access medical related news, updates and studies, online.

The ministries of health can improve public health by making soft medical information available. Important information includes warning and advice on hotspots for transmittable illnesses like Malaria, contact lists for hospitals and clinics, caution on resistant drugs or medicine that should no longer be in the market or is counterfeit. If mhealth is available for the largest fraction of the populations, positive improvements in health rates will be noticed.

To conclude, the structure of medical education in Sub-Sahara Africa has come from far and is still making noticeable progress. However, efforts to leapfrog into the m-learning generation are still not significantly fruitful. Action should be taken by the concerned bodies to make medical education, guidance, support and information available to students of medicine and the general public.

For more information and insight into edtech, please visit www.apps-for-learning.com