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Robust systems required to bring tech-based off-the-grid education platforms

10.03.2019
A high profile and well-respected South African service provider that focuses on innovation in learning requires new ways to deliver educational experiences to distant regions.
They also wish to bring high-quality education to environments where there are no qualified teachers. This is of major importance in Africa, and may help it to "leapfrog" the lack of educational infrastructure.

The South African service provider also requires learning and performance support tools that will improve learning efficiency thus ensuring higher workforce productivity by ensuring that young people are more employable.

The service provider is owned by a renowned technology entrepreneur who was listed on Forbes Africa '0 under 30 Best Young African Entrepreneurs', and who is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

The service provider is actively looking for solutions and is engaging with strong corporate and non-governmental partners to move towards implementation.

The most distant or excluded regions of Africa lack permanent connectivity, or even electricity, and have low device penetration as well. Even when tablets are made available, there are significant challenges to charge and maintain them. Poor connectivity reduces download speeds for content. Solutions that can help to tackle these challenges can offer great opportunities in Africa and beyond.

Examples of potential solutions to resolve this are

  • Devices connected to a central server at the school where decentralised content can be stored. The server can connect to the cloud at intervals to upload and download new content.
  • Solar powered servers and connectivity.
This is a good opportunity for Finnish technology companies to engage in the service provider’s continent-wide education strategy in South Africa.

Key issues to consider:​

  • How is content localized, in terms of language and context?
  • Are devices robust and easy to repair?
  • Can equipment deal with intermittent connectivity and electricity?
  • How demanding is the training for educators?
  • How much government involvement is required for the solution to work?
  • Who are the target companies in Finland?
Two types of companies are relevant:

  • Companies that have robust solutions for off-the-grid (electricity and connectivity) solutions. This can be either software or hardware.
  • Companies that have digital platforms for education and that are willing to work together (co-create) new forms of delivery for off-the-grid environments. This too can be either software or hardware.​
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