Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a principal driver of economic development and social change, worldwide. At Africawide we believe the need for economic and social development should justify investments in educational reform and in educational ICT. Unfortunately, the connection between continental development goals and ICT-based education reform are often more rhetorical than programmatic. The goals of South Africa’s e-Education White paper was for every school learner in the country to be ICT capable by 2013 and for teachers to use information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning.
Many initiatives have been undertaken to provide schools with computer labs and infrastructure in order to reach these goals, however, with varying degrees of success. Over the past several decades, the development of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has resulted in significant changes in the global economy and the way people, companies, and countries interact and do business.
The reduced costs of communication and transportation have lowered barriers to the flows between countries of goods, services, capital, knowledge, and, to a lesser extent, people. Increased global trade is associated with significant economic growth. This growth has, in turn, corresponded to an increased standard of living for millions of people across the globe, although the benefits of this growth have not been uniformly distributed across and within countries, particularly on the African continent.
Beyond the increased flow of goods, economists acknowledge that globalisation has corresponded to a profound shift in the role that knowledge creation and innovation play in driving productivity and global economic growth, a phenomenon referred to as the “knowledge economy.” Africawide Group CEO, Raymond Chiimba notes “Knowledge unlike commodities can be used multiple times and by more than one person without losing value, and it has marginal distribution costs. These facts open the possibility of an economic production factor with compounding rather than diminishing returns.”
It is this thinking that has led Africawide to partnering with Huawei in the provision of ICT devices to learners. The production, distribution, and use of new knowledge and technological innovations has been a major contributor to increased productivity, the upgrade of physical capital, and the creation of new, high-value-added jobs.
Increases in human, institutional, and technological capabilities are, in turn, major sources of new knowledge and innovation which then feed economic growth. H.o.T of Africawide Technology, William Bere proposes, “From this perspective, technological innovation and new knowledge are both the engine and the product of economic growth. Consequently, investments in research and development and technological innovation can create new knowledge that spawns a virtuous cycle of growth.”