Intel, Microsoft to collaborate with African govts in ICT in education projects

By Kennedy Abwao

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire (PANA): Global technology firms have demonstrated a deep commitment to work with state officials in Africa to computerise schools and learning centres during a ministerial conference on placing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the heart of education planning, which started in Abidjan Wednesday.

Intel, the world’s largest maker of computer chips and software maker, Microsoft, reiterated their commitment to fight for an African technology revolution, investing in initiatives to put technology at the height of economic growth and modernization in Africa.

“The power of education to transform lives in Africa cannot be ignored. Technology is coming to play in incredible ways,” John Galvin, Vice President, Sales and General Manager, Intel Education, told education ministers and digital technology experts at the 2nd African ministerial form on ICT.

Intel has invested in digital education content development in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, enabling publishers to offer digital content to learners since 2013.

Galvin said while the rapid technology changes were making it much harder to determine the future taste of consumers and to make larger capacity chips for much cheaper prices, enabling students to solve future challenges in the job market and adapt to new technologies still remained challenging.

“Eight out of 10 jobs in the future would require ICT skills for students to work. We have smart machines replacing workers and we do not know what the future is going to look like,” Galvin said in a keynote address to the ministerial meeting, 8-9 June in Abidjan, to plan the integration of ICT in schools.

“We know we are looking for people who can adapt to technology. It is about critical thinking, problem solving and it is about innovation. As much as we want to prepare students for this new environment, technology itself is not the answer,” Galvin said.

An executive of Microsoft told the ministers of the urgent need to equip students across Africa with the skills necessary to enable the young learners to take advantage of recent technology initiatives.

“It is time to move away from pilot projects in technology use. We want to drive African solutions to African problems. Let us ensure the next generation of Africans will not just be able to compete but will lead in the world innovation,” the Microsoft executive said.

Bruno Kone, Ivorian Digital economy and postal services minister, said his country was willing to cooperate with Intel to implement broad programmes to promote ICT innovation in schools.

Kone said the ICT forum provided an opportunity to discuss the implementation and full ownership of projects proposed by the international computer firm to enhance progress and innovation in education.

“The internet is the world’s greatest platform for innovation and transformation. This will amplify in the next few years as we work to connect all citizens of the world,” Kone said.

To prepare the country for greater ICT innovation, Ivorian Prime Minister and minister of Economy and Budget, Daniel Kablan Duncan, said the creation of digital universities in Cote d’Ivoire had opened an opportunity for all citizens to equally access education and strengthen access to knowledge.

The authorities in Cote d’Ivoire announced the start of a 7,000 km fibre optic cable roll out, of which 2,000 km was already laid ahead of its completion in 2017, to boost technology networking.

Cote d’Ivoire state officials said at least 100,000 students were now able to access virtual university through the ICT initiatives implemented since 2014.


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