Partnership has selected six African countries undergoing systemic
public policy reform in which to concentrate—Ghana, Mozambique,
Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Universities in
these countries now have a hospitable environment in which to
innovate and to transform themselves. In short, public renewal
has led to institutional renewal. Although other countries and
universities in Africa meet this criterion, the six Partnership
countries were also chosen because two or more of the Partnership
foundations are providing support to universities in them.
as the Linchpin of Excellence
as a linchpin keeps a wheel in place, Information and Communications
Technologies (ICT) are essential to the running of universities.
Early on the universities that the Partnership supports recognized
the pressing need to improve their ICT infrastructure and utilization.
ICT can enhance effective teaching, learning, and research in
Africa, as it does elsewhere in the world. It can reduce distances,
virtually if not physically, thus providing African scholars
with easier access to and input into the world of international
scholarship—nationally, across the continent, and internationally.
ICT is not a technical fix, however. It is a tool for users
and its people and needs-driven. This report therefore emphasizes
people power as much as it does technology.
of the four Partnership foundations supports ICT for its university
grantees in a number of ways. Some examples include:
of ICT Support
to and for Nigerian universities to include ICT components
in planning grants and support to the University of
Iowa (UI) to enable Nigerian university staff to participate
in a technology tour and workshops at University of
Iowa. (See WiderNet below.)
ICT support at the University
of Dar es Salaam, Makerere
University, and the University
of Ghana, Legon.
Support for a partnership of universities and “technikons”
(higher technical institutes) in South Africa’s
Western Cape Province to research and disseminate the
application of ICT to achieve quality and equity in
higher education in South Africa.
Support for participants attending a curriculum co-design
workshop at the University of Dar es Salaam, organized
by Professor Pearl Robinson of Tufts
Foundation funding focuses on four universities in Nigeria—Ahmadu
Bello University, Bayero University, the University
of Ibadan, and the University of Port Harcourt.
The universities have independently determined that
the bulk of their grants from the Foundation should
involve support for university efforts to create ICT
strategic plans, to purchase equipment, and to develop
skills in the use of these technologies.
A grant to the WiderNet
project at UI for ICT training in the US and Nigeria
for Nigerian university staff and to assist universities
in the development of ICT infrastructure
of the substantial opportunities that ICT can provide to African
universities, the Partnership decided to organize its first
thematic conference on this topic. But ICT can mean something
to everyone; it cuts across every university operation—from
administration and management to academic applications. We therefore
narrowed down the topic and decided to focus on using ICT for
effective teaching, learning, and research.
the outset, we asked the United Nations Economic Commission
for Africa (UNECA) whether it would like to collaborate with
us on this workshop. UNECA played an early and critical role
in implementing ICT on the continent—first in establishing
the Pan African Development Information System (PADIS)1
and then in launching the African
Information Society Initiative.
was adopted and endorsed by:
22nd meeting of the UNECA Conference of Ministers
in May 1996.
OAU Council of Ministers Meeting in July 1996.
African Regional Telecommunication Development Conference
in May 1996.
G8 Summit in Denver in May 1997.
AISI in 1996 to stimulate interest in ICT for development in
Africa and to encourage the creation of national ICT policies
and strategies on the continent. It had its genesis in a meeting
the previous year at UNECA, which brought together computer
and telecommunications experts from 38 African countries. An
ICT High-Level Working Group was created at this meeting, which
drafted the AISI concept. It was adopted by the Conference of
Ministers the following year.
remarks by Lalla Ben Barka, Deputy Executive Secretary,
meeting brings together two very important and crosscutting
sectors: that of education and ICTs—widely recognized
as priority areas by all of us. Two significant world
events have also emphasized this. In his Millenium Report,
the UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, identified pressing
challenges faced by the world’s peoples and proposed
a number of priorities...This led to the Millenium Development
Goals, which include education and the digital revolution.
Furthermore, the World Education Forum held in Dakar,
Senegal in April 2000 emphasized the need to promote ICT
as a means to harness Education for All goals.”
participants were selected from the countries and universities
in which the Partnership foundations work. We also invited two
regional organizations with an interest in ICT—the AAU
and the IUCEA. A few resource people, with proficiency in using
ICT for distance education and for information access were invited
as well. We were also fortunate to have a number of key staff
from UNECA with us who provided a context to continent-wide
processes. In all, participants around the table came from eight
African countries—Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia,
Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, and Tanzania—the UK,
and the United States.
included senior administrators, ”techies,” librarians,
academics, and program staff of the four foundations. Everyone
wore multiple hats, which enhanced the overall quality of the
meeting and our feeling of expertise. A full participants’
list is found in Appendix One.
of the Agenda
agenda included presentations and discussions on the overall
status of ICT implementation nationally and at participating
universities; the work of regional and pan-African associations;
using ICT for distance education and academic applications;
and criteria for selecting different kinds of electronic media.
The large group broke into small thematic groups twice a day.
We originally intended to devote the last day of the meeting
to "electives," but the small group sessions were
so productive that we continued them into the third day and
focused on priority setting and recommendations. (The agenda
will be found in Appendix two.)