Bridging the digital divide between Africa and India

Zambia has taken advantage of the Indian government’s Pan-African e-Learning Network

The network is one of the sub-continent’s major components of technical assistance to African countries to improve their human resource capacity. According to information obtained from the First Secretary for Press at the Zambian High Commission in New Delhi, India, Bwalya Nondo, the e-network is a device being used to bridge the digital divide between Indian and African countries to enhance human resource development.

The US$125mn pan-African e-network project intends to cover 10,000 students in Africa including Zambia over a five-year period through 34 learning centres and 15 universities. In Zambia, Mulungushi University was designated the implementing agency of the e-learning project in 2010.

Currently, there are 30 students undergoing different programmes with India’s Amity University through e-learning. In addition, another 40 Zambian students are expected to pursue their studies with Madras University, while nine have enrolled with Indira Ghandi National Open University via the e-learning framework.

This followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the governments of India and Zambia through the African Union. MoUs with the three institutions were signed with Mulungushi University (based in central Zambia) last year.

“The rationale for this form of learning came to Mulungushi University after the Indian government offered to give technical assistance to African countries to improve their human resource capacity through e-learning,” said Professor Anne Sikwibele, director of the Institute of Distance Education and e-Learning, Zambia Learning Centre at Mulungushi University in Kabwe.

Although the Indian institutions Mulungushi University is collaborating with have many programmes, only areas considered to be most relevant to the Zambian market were selected. Currently, the package of courses being offered at undergraduate and post graduate levels are in business administration, finance and control, finance and investment analysis, science information technology, human resources and marketing, and tourism.

The course catalogue also includes diploma courses in early childhood care and development, and HIV/AIDS and family education. A certificate programme in environmental education is also a component of the e-learning programme hosted by Mulungushi University.

E-learning is a new programme in Zambia and a lot of work needs to be done to ensure that it is adopted by a cross-section of society. This calls for good connectivity in information technology in order to reach all corners of the country.

E-learning can contribute to socio-economic development and propel Zambia’s achievement of MDGs as well as attaining the Vision 2030. Apart from e-learning, the e-network project in Zambia will also cover tele-medicine at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and video-conferencing at State House. In addition, the programme will provide effective communication for e-government, e-commerce, infotainment, resource mapping, and meteorological services, which are all pertinent to the country’s development.

Nawa Mutumweno

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