This is a belated post on the World Economic Forum on Africa, held last month in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. First, this event has been in Cape Town, South Africa in past years, and it is critical that WEF moved it closer to the locus of matters of greatest importance to the continent. Second, the gathering of leaders and practitioners from government, industry, and philanthropy provided the perfect mix for gaining feedback on the programs and plans of the World Wide Web Foundation.
I was invited to talk in the session, Higher Education in Africa, with a focus on the use of the Web to empower educators and students to access content from around the world, and, ultimately, to contribute educational materials for the benefit of the rest of the world. The format of my talk, Web-Empowered Education in Africa — was the Pecha Kucha style — in this case 15 slides with a fixed 20 seconds per slide. This was a fun challenge. Following the presenters’ talks, the audience broke into groups to discuss in more depth each speaker’s topic. I was honored that the Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa and the Minister of Education of Tanzania joined my group and provided very valuable input.
There were many other incredible sessions at WEFA. Please check out the official videos. Given the Web Foundation’s initial work within the Web-alliance for Regreening in Africa, I found the session on A New Vision for Africa’s Agriculture particularly interesting. However, I was surprised that access to information (techniques, weather, diseases, market prices, government regulations, etc.) for farmers and agriculture extension agents was not really mentioned.
I am already following up with most of the fine people I met in Dar es Salaam, and I look forward to participating in future WEF events.