As a result of a sharp rise in academic digitisation programmes, booming enrolment in online higher education and the rapid adoption of self-paced e-learning, Africa has become the most dynamic e-learning market in the world – with Senegal in first place followed by Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
This was outlined in a 24 January report by US-based international research company Ambient Insight, titledThe Africa Market for Self-paced e-Learning Products and Services: 2011-2016 forecast and analysis.
The 68-page Africa regional report included five-year revenue forecasts for 16 countries: Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The study found that the overall growth rate for self-paced e-learning in Africa is 15.2%. Senegal has the highest growth rate in Africa at 30.4%, followed by Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya at 27.9%, 25.1% and 24.9% respectively.
Self-paced e-learning revenues in Africa reached US$250.9 million in 2011, and by 2016 will triple in four countries and double in seven countries.
The report’s major finding, said Ambient Insight, was that “the supply and demand metrics for e-learning in Africa are evolving so fast that the market bears little resemblance to the competitive landscape as recently as two years ago”.
Any research or analysis on the adopting of e-learning on the continent that is older than two years is “effectively obsolete”. The report’s market analysis was done by Sam S Adkins, Ambient Insight’s chief research officer.
Africa has the highest growth rates in the world for four out of the five self-paced e-learning products and services, including packaged content, custom content development services, cloud-based authoring tools and learning platform services, installed authoring tools, and installed learning platforms.
The growth rate for cloud-based e-learning products in Africa is a breathtaking 38.6%, and packaged content will generate the highest revenues in Africa throughout the forecast period.
This increase is the result of the recent arrival of fibre optic connectivity, which is a major learning technology catalyst in Africa. Another catalyst includes national, regional and international support for several new development-backed initiatives to integrate learning technology into education and training, said the report.
For example, in January 2012, the African Development Bank approved a US$15.6 million grant to help strengthen the capacity of the African Virtual University (AVU). As of 2012, the AVU had 31 active higher education partners across Africa, which it helps in building e-learning centres and training content developers. The new funding will be used to build 12 new e-learning centres.
Also, new virtual universities are springing up around Africa. For example, a new virtual university will be launched in Ghana in 2013 by the African University College of Communications and India-based AVAGMAH online school of Bharathidasan university.