Orange, CNED advance digital educational content in Africa

French telecommunications firm Orange and the National Distance Learning Centre (CNED) have partnered to facilitate access to educational content on smartphones in Africa.

The announcement was made during the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference hosted in Dakar last week.

CNED, a French public institution under the oversight of that country's Department of Education dedicated to providing distance learning material, will distribute French content in the form of eBooks through its MondoCNED application.

A statement from the companies notes "In addition to the CNED, other partners will be able to offer their educational content to Orange customers, notably French online universities, French-speaking universities and African universities which already produce their own educational digital resources.

"This content will be available at attractive prices on smartphones, which has become the primary means for internet access in Africa. The downloaded ebooks can then be read freely without needing an internet connection."

The partnership is already established in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and will be introduced to Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso among others.

Growing support for education

GPE plans to provide US$2 billion a year by 2020 for education planning and delivery to support children's learning in developing countries.

At the Conference donor countries pledged US$2.3 billion in financing, according to GPE.

"This is a substantial increase in funding compared to the US$1.3 billion contributed over the past three years. In addition, several donor countries have indicated their intention to pledge further funds over the course of the financing period," the organisation stated.

"The biggest source of education financing comes from developing countries themselves. More than 50 developing countries announced they would increase public expenditures for education for the period 2018 to 2020 to a total of US$110 billion, compared to US$80 billion between 2015 and 2017," it added.

Digital a priority

Providing digital, innovative and remote education for Africa was discussed at last year's Responsible Business Forum which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2017.

During the event, HP's CTO and global head of HP Labs Shane Wall said by 2030, Africa will have more kids under the age of ten than the entire US population; and there will also be a shortage of six million primary school teachers.

Bruno Mettling, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa said, "Of all the digital revolutions, higher education and vocational training is one of the most strategic for Africa, as the benefits of digital technology can help train millions of managers which this continent needs to independently take charge of its development in the long term."

Michel Reverchon-Billot, CEO of the CNED said, "These new ways of learning on the move reflect the development of the digital ecosystem. This opportunity for easy, rapid and widespread deployment is the first step of an ambitious strategic plan and a major driver of our development overseas.