As business leaders, we all know the power of ‘giving back’ and all the successful business leaders have strong social responsibility schemes at their core. The Rumie Initiative has taken this one step further by offering affordable devices and crowdsourced content to children all over Africa.

African public-private partnerships are fast-tracking education improvement from primary school to university, potentially levelling the playing field for millions of students in the Middle East and worldwide.

In the face of electricity shortages and over-crowding, African public-private partnerships are integrating technology in education to enhance learning. Broadband supports tablets, laptops, and online courses to reach students with poor or no access to education, improve teacher training, and lower costs, according to a recent report by UNESCO. For example, Africa’s e-learning market has doubled from 2011 to 2016, reaching US$513 million, according to a report by market researchers Ambient Insights. South Africa is Africa’s largest e-learning market, along with Angola, Nigeria, and Tunisia. Meanwhile, Senegal, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are posting 25 percent annual e-learning market growth.

“Africa is one the world’s most dynamic education markets. Public-private partnerships show best practices for using technology to reach marginalised students with technology that students use in their daily lives. Africa presents exciting business opportunities for education technology vendors and startups worldwide,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice-President, for Exhibitions and Events Management at Dubai World Trade Centre, host of GITEX Technology Week, one of the world’s most influential technology gatherings and conferences.

Children at school in Africa

Supporting technology investment in Africa, GITEX held the Africa Investment Forum, in partnership with Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Authority at the end of 2016. Over 20 African countries showed how technology can enhance verticals, support foreign direct investment in ICT, and drive economic growth.

The Arabian Gulf states and South Africa enjoy strong trade ties, especially in electronics, construction, and defence. Trade between South Africa and the UAE, where Dubai is the largest city, reached about US$3 billion in 2015, and the governments are hoping to double its value in the coming years, according to the South African Consulate General in Dubai.

The Power Of Partnerships

African education projects are seeing the power of partnerships with local and international NGOs. The Rumie Initiative, a Canada-based NGO, has produced the Rumie tablet that is in the hands of more than 3,000 children in Africa, including in Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

School Children

“Rumie saw an opportunity to give disadvantaged students access to the kind of free digital learning materials that had been available only to affluent schools in the past,” said Tariq Fancy, the founder and executive director of The Rumie Initiative.

The affordable Rumie tablet is pre-loaded with US$5,000 worth of crowdsourced educational software and textbooks, with the impact of every dollar spent delivering 100 times the impact.

“Tablets can be sourced and distributed cheaply, the cloud provides low costs for storage, and crowd-sourced content allows educators to provide students with the local resources that best meet their needs. Rumie is now untethering content from tablets so that any student with a mobile device can learn from anywhere at any time,” added Fancy.