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What Has China Done for ICT4D in Africa?

By Wayan Vota on May 13, 2012

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In The China-Africa partnership: effective for education?, Stephen Haggard argues that, up to now, China’s presence in Africa has had disappointing impacts on learning. As in no impact at any scale.

What’s your thoughts on China’s impact on ICT4D?

I know Chinese companies have done much on the commercial side to introduce low-cost technologies and make IT investments. But I am not talking about ICT components – I am talking about systematic change.

What have Chinese companies or the Chinese government done to increase school or teacher educational use of ICT? Or community health worker efficiency or effectiveness via technology? Yes, all now have cheap handsets, and that’s laudable but also commercial. Have they done anything altruistic?

Tim Unwin says:

Within China itself, a very considerable amount has been done on using ICTs effectively for education – and there is much good research on subjects ranging from the use of electronic whiteboards to mobile phones for students and ICTs in teacher training. The energy and vitality there – where electricity and connectivity are very extensive even in marginal rural areas – is impressive. There is a challenge in sharing this expertise more widely across the world.

Michael Trucano says:

While comparatively few representatives from Chinese firms and organizations participated at eLearning Africa 2011, after engaging in a few dozen informal discussions with many MOE staff, vendors and consultants, it is clear that Chinese support for the purchase of ICT infrastructure for schools will most likely increase greatly in the coming years.

Scattered existing examples of small cooperation were cited by many people as a harbinger of things to come. Almost every ministry of education official with whom I spoke mentioned that they had contact of some sort with Chinese officials or partners around the use of computers in schools, and expected this to increase in the near term (many remarked on how this contrasted with their dialogue, or lack thereof, with most ‘traditional’ donors on this topic).

Now what do you say?

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Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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2 Comments to “What Has China Done for ICT4D in Africa?”

  1. Alex says:

    Mike captures the near term prognosis quite well. Another clue- look out for where Chinese companies (with Chinese loans/ grants) are building national fibre backbones and you will usually come across a proposal for a large ICT4E deployment project under consideration by the Ministry of Education or ministry in charge of telecoms


  2. attorney says:

    It could be argued that in terms of scale of quality technology implementation, that China lags a bit behind. It also depends on a comparative benchmark. And what is the comparative benchmark?