In the wake of the accelerated shift to digital technology, EdTech is booming. With a global turnover estimated at $254.8 billion in 2021, and expected to more than double by 2027 (to $605.4 billion) according to the specialized research firm Arizton, it is now a market eight times larger than the software sector. The Swiss organization Seedstars - which invests in young companies in emerging countries - estimates that 9% of the applications downloaded from the App Store today concern educational content. It's not surprising then that Africa, boosted by the increased need for digitalization due to the Covid pandemic (school closures), is also seeing an increase in online learning offers.
An offer that is multiplying as much as it is diversifying
Online courses on African heritage, technical training on environmental jobs, modules for designing animated content... The offer is multiplying as much as it is diversifying. Better still, the sector has the merit of generating both jobs and income. Hence the interest of public players and donors in this sector, as well as that of global technology operators present on the continent.
Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei, for example, provides training programs such as ICT Academy and Tech4All, while the American Amazon has set up the AWS Re/Start program, which trains and reintegrates people who are far from employment into a career in the Cloud. The French operator Orange has launched Orange Campus Africa, an African online training platform, which provides a range of training courses from partner institutions (Virtual Universities of Tunis and Senegal, Digital University Engineering and Technology (UNIT), Finafrique) with "the concern to offer content tailored to local needs," said the group's management.
Online training, a complement to "real" practical application
The fact remains that while the number of courses on offer is increasing, they are limited by a number of factors such as access to energy and the internet, as well as a lack of content in local languages. Worse, this type of training is not always recognized by national educational bodies and potential employers. Didier ACOUETEY, president of the recruitment firm AfricSearch, believes that if "we cannot deprive ourselves of the digitalization of training", it should "always be complemented by periodic interaction" with people. In other words, it must be a complement to "real" practical application. Nevertheless, despite all their shortcomings and in view of the continuous pressure exerted by Africa's demographic growth (from 1.3 billion inhabitants today, the continent's population is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050) on education systems, edtech initiatives have the merit of proposing alternative solutions to democratize access to knowledge and thus offer opportunities to those who know how to seize them. In the meantime, a trend is emerging on the virtual education scene: online training for digital professions. In other words, the jobs of tomorrow.