Here are some key take-aways from the conference session I hosted at WestAfricaCom with Dr. Momar Dieng, former senior educational technology advisor to the Senegalese Ministry of Education and The World Bank. Dr. Dieng led the ongoing educational technology transformation efforts in Senegal. Watch the conference session Teachers Are Telecom’s Best Customers
The most significant take-away is that the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the gap between the digital haves and have-nots causing an even more extreme learning deficit. Although ministries of education have encouraged teachers and students to go online and learn from home, much needs to be done to make distance learning a practical reality. The cost of connectivity is absolutely the most basic underlying challenge.
Unlike the more economically developed world, the lack of core infrastructure in West Africa means that providing and maintaining connectivity is an extremely expensive, daunting task for telecom operators. Hundreds of millions of people remain unconnected due to a lack of electricity, insufficient roads and bridges, and the need to access and maintain cell towers – among other issues. The process to lower the cost of connectivity requires strong political will, innovative partnerships between and among the private and public sector players, and – subsidization. All of the players need the appropriate incentives to work together; and it isn’t easy. Still, we must push ahead for the sake of growing the digital economy to benefit our children and future generations.
Watch the conference session Teachers Are Telecom’s Best Customers