The Innovating Education Africa Expo 2023 set the stage for transformative actions in the education sector across Africa, emphasizing digital literacy, innovation, and inclusive development.
The Africa Union Commission (AUC) Department of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation successfully hosted the Innovating Education Africa Expo 2023 at the AUC headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 14 and 15, 2023. The landmark conference, held under the theme “Africa and the Digital Transformation Opportunity: Innovating for the Transformation of Education on the Continent,” marked a pivotal step in redefining the educational landscape across Africa.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Prof. Mohamed Belhocine, Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation highlighted the significance of the Innovating Education Africa (IEA) initiative as a multifaceted platform. He emphasized its role in sharing experiences about innovative solutions addressing education challenges in Africa. H.E Belhocine also noted the platform’s capacity to enhance the visibility of these practices for potential support, scaling up, replication, or further development by AU Member States, underlining its strategic importance in the broader context of educational transformation across the continent.
The Education Expo brought together approximately over 100 distinguished stakeholders from various fields, including education academia, innovation & technology, and media from across Africa. These experts engaged in panel discussions and shared insights on critical topics such as Expanding Education Access, Learning Outcomes, Relevance through Innovation in Education, Public and Private Partnership models for Education and Education Infrastructure, Africa’s Digital Development in TVET and Jobs, and Scaling up Citizens’ Participation in achieving the Africa we want through education.
A consensus emerged among speakers on the urgent need to improve digital access and refine digital skills across the continent. The emphasis was also placed on lifelong learning as an integral aspect of Africa’s development agenda.
Sophia Ashipala, Head of Education Division at the AUC, in her opening remarks, stressed the necessity of embracing innovation in the education sector and improving the quality of education across the continent. She highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for learning mobility, recognizing that education extends beyond traditional brick and mortar structures. Ashipala also pointed out the vital need to invest in research and build robust research networks.
The conference also addressed the challenges and opportunities presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly the global digital divide. This led to the development of a digital action plan and an improved strategy on education access.
Ms Ashipala mentioned collaborations with stakeholders in about 35 countries to develop 46 capacity-building projects focused on employability. She reiterated the African Union’s commitment, expressed in the February 2023 Summit, to achieving quality, modern education as part of the 2024 AU year of Education.
The AU Youth Envoy, Chido Mpemba, emphasized the importance of developing resilient education systems in Africa, highlighting the socio-economic benefits of innovations in education and the empowerment of youth.
The conference also featured presentations from ten innovators, selected from 600 applicants, showcasing their community-serving innovative products. The winners were announced with Brain Share Tech of Uganda, represented by Charles Muhindo, receiving the top prize of $40,000. Kefilwe Lekane of Kefilwe Tsela Academy, South Africa, and Tech Aide from Ghana won the second and third prizes, respectively. These projects focus on equipping community members with digital skills and supporting lifelong learning cultures.