(Ecofin Agency) - UNESCO has been leading the ICT Transforming Education in Africa project for the past five years. The project slowed than last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Connecting all of Africa's public and private higher education institutions to broadband Internet by 2025 will require $52 billion. This estimate is made by the World Bank and Knowledge Consulting Ltd, which assessed the feasility of this ambition.
“Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)—comprising public and private universities, colleges, technical training institutes, and vocational schools—play crucial roles in training skilled workforces, conducting research, and fostering innovation, all of which underpin social development, economic growth, and national competitiveness,” the two partners said in their joint “World Bank and Knowledge Consulting Ltd. 2021. Feasibility Study to Connect all African Higher Education Institutions to High-Speed Internet” report.
The World Bank and Knowledge Consulting Ltd say the estimated $52 billion includes spending on providing devices to students and staff ($17.3 billion), spending on upgrading campus networks ($27.3 billion), the cost of bandwidth for upstream connectivity ($7.3 billion), and the development/support of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and Regional Research and Education Networks (RREN) ($538 million).
The feasibility study conducted by the World Bank is part of the Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) initiative launched on the continent in 2020 to prepare its entry into the digital economy. The DE4A initiative supports the African Union's Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (2020-2030), whose ultimate goal is to allow every individual, business and government on the continent to become digitally enabled by 2030.
The findings of this study will enable the World Bank to develop an operational roadmap to implement the project to connect all of Africa's higher education institutions. In Uganda, for example, which has 52 universities and 184 accredited technical and vocational training centers, with a total of nearly 259,000 learners, the international financial institution valued the project at nearly $730 million.