Can e-learning support the development of the continent's young workforce?
According to the report, e-learning professionals in Africa are confident about the future, a feeling bolstered by the growing economy, as well as increasing access to Internet and a growing content sector. Africa has the highest growth rates in telecommunications in the world, with rocketing mobile-cellular subscription rates (predicted to reach 69 percent by the end of 2014). Mobile-broadband subscription rates also are growing and are predicted to reach 19 percent by the end of 2014. This increasing penetration of mobile broadband creates a demand for locally relevant content and applications, forming a subsector of the African e-learning industry.
According to Ambient Insight, a market research firm, e-learning in 16 African countries is just over 15 percent, with revenues expected to reach to $512.7 million in 2016. Ambient Insight suggests three catalysts of the boom in the African e-learning market: wide-scale digitization of academic content, increasing enrollment in online higher education courses, and increasing corporate adoption of e-learning.
Africa's gross enrollment rate of students in higher education is less than 7 percent, the lowest in the world, and retention remains a problem in lower levels of education. However, there is an increased demand for higher education that cannot be accommodated by traditional campuses. This makes quality online education a necessity, says Aida Opoku-Mensa, special advisor to the Post-2015 Development Agenda at the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa.
Owing to the continent's burgeoning youth population, people-centered development remains one of the top goals of the agenda. E-learning is seen as a "trustworthy mechanism" for supporting such development, says Opoku-Mensa.