[Column] Jens Ischebeck: Is Kenya really an M-Learning Paradise?
14-03-2023 14:50:50 | by: Andrea Ayemoba | hits: 4206 | Tags:

M-learning, or 'Mobile Learning', has become increasingly popular in recent years with students participating in courses from all around the globe. The platform allows students to partake in courses offered by top universities and gain recognized qualifications through distance learning. Sub-Sahara Africa has come a long way in terms of development and education with more residents gaining a level of education which was almost unattainable in the past.

M-learning is one of the relatively new applications which use the new internet and mobile phone based technologies to improve the access to some basic needs or skills, such as mhealth, app based language learning or cheap online money transfers.

What is M-learning and E-learning?
M-learning means to take part in online courses through mobile devices, E-learning is a general term for all online courses that are available via electronic devices such as computers. Both of these revolutionary methods of education are imperative in the development of education in less developed societies with a lack of educational infrastructure. With M-learning or E-learning, individuals from such communities with access to the internet can sign up to a MOOC, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, these are flexible courses offered by well-established universities. Other types of E-learning and distance learning courses are available including those recognised at Bachelors and Masters level.
There is a rising amount of local and regional companies which provide products and materials for online courses and exam preparations, the classical fields of m-learning. This African providers guide illustrates a list of edtech startups in several countries.

The Edtech Sector And Mobile Penetration
Edtech is a growing sector that assists those from less developed communities with access to mobile devices and apps gain an education with relative ease. Areas like Sub-Sahara Africa can benefit greatly from Edtech advances due to its rapidly expanding mobile economy. By 2020 it is estimated that 540 million smartphones will be used in Sub-Sahara Africa, equating to a growth of approximately 380 million when compared to statistics gathered in the latter part of 2015. Mobile penetration is predicted to rise exponentially with the penetration rate of connections reaching 93 percent by the year 2020.

The mobile ecosystem in the area is expected to have created 2.7 million jobs by 2020, which is a huge progression in areas that have been subject to deprivation for many years. It is also predicted that 20 billion dollars will be contributed to public funding as a result of the success of the mobile ecosystem. Between 2014 and 2015 there were 15 new 4G networks launched including in areas that had no longer had access to this type of connection before, this included Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.

Apps & The Population
Since the increase in connections, the popularity of apps has risen. Kenya is seeing a huge rise in download figures in regards to mobile devices. The Sub-Sahara is gaining significant interest from app developers of all kinds with huge corporations making momentous penetrations in the market. Mobile is currently the biggest platform providing internet access to Sub-Saharan populations.

Regional edtech providers
There is a rising amount of local and regional companies which provide products and materials for online courses and exam preparations, the classical fields of m-learning. This African providers guide illustrates a list of edtech startups in several countries.
Eneza Education is one fast growing edtech startup in Kenya. Located in Nairobi, Kenya, Eneza was founded in 2011 as a group e-learning venture set up by business partners Toni Maraviglia, Chris Asego and Kago Kagichiri. At the time of its initial launch, the online university type service was known as M-Prep and used simple SMS messaging. Now available in English and also as a smartphone app or via a Web interface, Eneza has become the most widely used mobile education platform in Africa to provide local elearning content.

Eneza Education aims to educate fifty million students in rural Africa by leveraging low-cost mobile technology to deliver online courses. Promotional literature describes the company as a virtual tutor and teaching assistant that delivers high-quality educational content to students, along with relevant data, tips and resources for teachers. Market penetration also includes over 800,000 offline users in more than 8,000 schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.

Affordability - Financial & Social Inclusion
Although there has been a decline in Application Service Providers (ASP), the effect that this has had on affordability of mobile devices has been positive. In 2015 a Chinese company introduced smartphones into Malawi retailing at approximately 20 US dollars. The phones had the capability of providing residents with video calling, and internet browsing, a huge step in assisting the country to contribute to the mobile market. Poorer countries are still slightly more behind in the mobile market than countries with a larger middle-class population. This is due to the taxation applied to mobile devices and the pay gap between men and women in these areas. However, with an increase in residents with access to the internet, online education is still becoming much more available. There are a number of top universities offering courses free of charge, although these courses tend not to be recognised qualifications, they do provide knowledge and education to those in less developed communities. This can not only have an effect of the economic growth of these areas but also educate residents in a way that was previously unattainable.

Although there has been a good level of growth in poorer areas, mobile devices and e-learning would appear to be more affordable in more densely populated areas with a larger middle-class. Secondary and tertiary educational institutions are becoming more technologically advanced in some areas, for example, all public secondary schools in Botswana have internet access which is enabling students to benefit from e-learning in an educational environment.

What does the Future Hold for M-Learning in Kenya?
Kenya is becoming a very well established and developed nation, with its increase in mobile infrastructure and rising middle class it is probable that M-learning will becoming hugely popular. The middle class in Kenya makes up around 45 percent of the population and is rising each year. The literacy rate in Kenya is estimated at nearly 90 percent of the population. Although this may seem low when compared to more developed societies, it is an excellent figure that would appear to be on the rise. With more individuals participating in all types of learning, the economy and general public wealth should show a steady growth. This will allow more Kenyans to participate in online learning with a higher access to mobile services and overall wealth as a result of growth in the economy.

Online courses when undertaken through distance learning are generally much more affordable than gaining the qualification through campus based learning. Online learning is a fantastic tool for those in the Sub Sahara that wish to educate themselves in a variety of different subjects that lead to professional and fulfilling careers. With the mobile penetration rate showing a positive growth, the future of Kenya in terms of online education seems both plausible and probable.


Jens Ischebeck is an mLearning, eLearning and Online Courses specialist.

For more information about this important and exciting educational market, visit my apps-for-learning.com. Alternatively, if you wish, contact me directly today. Whether you are a student or teaching professional, we specialize in mobile education within Africa and will be pleased to help you with your enquiry.

By the way: If you are interested in online money transfers, the leading providers and how it works, just check my remittance site.