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E-learning comes to Zim

Acer Africa, together with CreAtive Credit and Axiz Workgroup have brought the first technology driven classroom to the Mary Mount School in Zimbabwe.

Exactly one year ago, the prospect of a fully functional e-learning classroom in the North East district of Zimbabwe was not a reality for the children of this region. Acer Africa, together with business partners CreAtive Credit and Axiz Workgroup have collaborated to contribute in the construction of a first of its kind technology driven education facility, based at the Mary Mount School, in the Rashinga district, Zimbabwe.

The Mary Mount School has been providing scholars with quality education for a number of years and with the addition of this technology will provide up to 600 learners with world class computer based education. The aim of this project is to equip each pupil with essential skills as well contribute to their daily classroom experience and see them one day achieve the dreams they aspire to. The Mary Mount School will be fully equipped with top of the line Acer notebooks, desktops and monitors as well as an Acer Education interactive whiteboard. The solution further includes a fully interactive projector, offering training imperative to all scholars at the school thus bringing Mary Mount in line with many other schools in terms of the technology offering at their disposal.

Sylvester Nguni, Zimbabwean Minister of State (Representing Vice President Joice Mujuru) along with Lazarus Dokoro, Zimbabwean Deputy Minister of Education Sport and Culture officiated at the opening of the classroom together with other dignitaries including Acer Vice President Amin Mortazavi and CreAtive Credit Managing Director John Burnett after a five hour drive through the remotest of terrain Africa has to offer.

‚”Much like the recently established Orlando Pirates Learning Centre in South Africa, the Mary Mount version will empower disadvantaged children through integrated technologies,‚” says Amin Mortazavi, Vice President of Acer Middle East and Africa ‚”In the future Acer will aim to establish these facilities all over Africa in order to provide pupils with a supplementary understanding of their school curriculum.‚”

The classroom was handed over to the Rashinga community to realise a partnership that was formed between CreAtive Credit and the Zimbabwe department of education to address the need for educational infrastructure in the area. Marius Le Grange, Acer Africa Education Manager added “The most important investment a nation can make is in its young learners: offering them education will develop them in to leaders of the 21st century. Acer is proud to play an active role in such development projects where students will have access to the latest technology and educational software available in the market.””

According to Guido Terni, Acer EMEA Education Manager, technology has assumed a substantial stake in the social and educational lives of today’s youth. ‚””For them, learning must be flexible, dynamic, easy, comfortable and practical. Acer plays an active role in developing and cultivating the school of the future, providing innovative and easy-to-use solutions to the global education community.‚””

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Africa gets broadband boost

ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.

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Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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