By David Mugabe
The focus will later today turn to Uganda as the 9th edition of the largest gathering of e-learning professionals on the continent commences.
Over 1,500 participants and 300 speakers have arrived from across Africa and the world for the conference which will run until Friday.
Over the next three days they will explore the latest innovations and ideas that are, in the words of this year’s theme, “opening frontiers to the future”.
The arrival of the event in Uganda throws a spotlight onto ICT and education developments in the entire region.
Uganda has become a major player in East Africa, particularly in infrastructure development.
The Ugandan ministry of ICT – the co-host of the conference – has introduced many initiatives in the last few years to extend electricity and the Internet into rural areas and make access more affordable for all.
“The Government is undertaking a big effort to increase the coverage of the electricity grid,” said John Nasasira, who is Uganda’s minister for ICT.
The National Backbone Initiative, he said, will be implemented with “last mile broadband rollout working through public-private partnerships, [to] ensure the reach of the broadband network deeper into rural areas that might not be profitable for commercial telecommunications companies”.
Some of the most talked about Ugandan projects, such as the Maendeleo Foundation’s solar classroom, will form part of an international programme drawing from developments across the continent.
Keynote speakers include Nyombi Thembo (state minister for ICT), Kamanda Bataringaya, (minister of state for higher education), Cameroonian Rebecca Enonchong, who is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of AppsTech.
Others are Kenyan Dr Bitange Ndemo, the Honorary Chair of the Foundation for Affordable Internet, and Mozambican Professor Sozinho Francisco Matsinhe, Executive Secretary of the African Union’s African Academy of Languages.
A plenary debate will be held on the provocative motion: “This house believes that there is now nothing more important to education than access to the Internet”.
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