Worldwide: Education Technology In Africa

Last Updated: 23 November 2016
Article by Ross Barfoot, Kellie Blyth, Jennifer Agnew and Dawda Jawara III

Educational technologies have the potential to expand the educational horizons of millions and the benefits of improving and having an efficient education system are clear. According to UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report one third of young people in sub-Saharan Africa fail to complete primary school and lack skills for work. Many students who do complete school leave illiterate.

This is contrary to the common assumption that it takes four or five years of schooling for children to use reading, writing and calculation with ease. It is accepted that class sizes and teacher-student interactions have a direct effect on the quality of education that a student receives. Sub-Saharan African countries have an average pupil/teacher ratio of 42:1 and it is expected that by 2030 there will be three and a half times as many young people in sub-Saharan Africa as there were in 1980. To achieve the goal of universal primary education it is anticipated that more than 2 million teachers will need to be trained and recruited.

These statistics show that sub-Saharan African education systems are in need of improvement and that there is an obvious capacity gap. Education technologies can alleviate teacher demands as they have the potential to reach out to a wide audience, away from the traditional classroom environment. For example, by using video streaming or screen-sharing technologies, content can be tailored remotely and delivery can be centralised.

This article seeks to demonstrate how Education Technology can help to plug the gap in relation to these educational deficiencies in Sub-Saharan African countries and highlights the opportunities and challenges that emerging educational technology companies wishing to penetrate the African market face.

What is Educational Technology?

Education technology (or ed-tech) encompasses advanced educational theory with hardware and software innovation. Modern examples of ed-tech make use of internet and mobile data connections and include video streaming services, screen-sharing programmes and other cloud and data content sharing platforms.

In the developed world, a variety of ed-tech is used to ensure education systems are efficient and to ensure educational content is delivered in an effective and cohesive manner. It may come as no surprise that modern ed-tech is not widely used in developing nations, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Some ed-tech provide flexibility as to when and where particular sessions are viewed and offer learners the ability to pause, rewind and to review content at their own pace, something which a classroom environment cannot always offer. Virtual classroom environments provide those students who may require further guidance with a platform to raise their queries, without the need for face-to-face interaction.

Using similar concepts, ed-tech can assist with teacher training. By harmonising teacher training programmes, ed-tech can help in raising the standards of teaching to ensure that education is delivered at the appropriate level, in line with a coordinated curriculum.


Hardcopy resources, which are heavily relied on in education systems throughout the world, are often out of date. In sub-Saharan Africa hardcopy resources are expensive as they are often printed and imported from European countries, and are therefore in scarce supply. Ed-tech can reduce the need for reliance on hardcopy resources as they have the benefit of being able to provide up-to-date materials in a digital format.


The internet and related technologies have reached developing countries at a much faster rate than previous technological innovations and much faster than was previously expected. Africa now has an internet penetration rate of 28.6% and sub-Saharan Africa has a mobile phone penetration rate of 73%.

In recognition of this, we have seen a number of ed-tech start-up companies that have sought to utilise this growing mobile and internet technology. For instance, Eneza Education offers courses and quizzes almost exclusively by text messages and the One University Network have developed Android and web-based apps where students can access learning material using relatively low-cost smart phones.

Such initiatives have been implemented in the current infrastructural environment and without the need for significant investment in equipment, hardware or infrastructure.

Protecting your technology

Some of the most popular ed-tech solutions come in the form of cloud applications, which can be adopted for a low cost and with minimum technical infrastructure. Where ed-tech vendors have spent time and money developing an app it is vital that they take steps to protect the intellectual property (IP) rights in the app. This will help prevent others from using these IP rights to create 'copycat' versions. It will also determine the scope of the licence to use the app which users are granted.

As a piece of software, an app will incorporate a number of different IP rights, including in its interface, layout and design. Copyright, for example, will arise automatically on the creation of the software for the app. Copyright will subsist in a number of different components of the app; the source code (the programming language used to write the app), the object code (the machine-readable language used by a computer to operate the software), as well as in the graphics, fonts, text and music. Copyright does not require its author to take any formal steps to benefit from the protection afforded by the law. Registration of a copyrighted work can be of assistance in order to bring a claim against an infringing third party. Infringing copyright is likely to be a breach of the law which entitles the app vendor to raise proceedings to recover damages. However, in some countries it may also give rise to criminal sanctions.

Trade marks, by contrast, are registered rights meaning that formal steps must be taken in order to benefit from the potential protection available under the law. Before adopting any trade marks (including slogans, logos or names) for your app, it is prudent to carry out searches to ensure that the relevant mark is free to use and you will not infringe any third party rights in adopting it. This helps avoid the risk of having to rebrand your app after it is released due to an infringement complaint.

Where the app is likely to be made available in a number of different countries, it is worthwhile for the vendor to adopt a brand protection strategy to secure trade mark protection in the key markets in which the app will or may in future be made available. This will assist the vendor to enforce his/ her trade mark rights against any infringers in those countries.

Displaying a registered trade mark sign, ®, where a trade mark has been registered may also deter potential copycat versions of an app. It should be noted, however, that displaying this symbol where the app trade mark is not registered may be a criminal offence in some countries. The vendor can however adopt the symbol " for any unregistered trade marks and the symbol © to demonstrate that he / she has copyright in the work.

In our upcoming newsletters we intend to explore further the legal issues concerning apps and other cloud based education technologies from the perspective of vendors and end users, including ownership of the technology developed and considerations around privacy.

Challenges faced by education technology companies

There are a number of challenges which ed-tech companies and entrepreneurs, seeking to penetrate the ed-tech sphere in emerging markets should be aware of.

Consideration should also be given as to whether the technology is affordable and whether the demographic profile of the potential market has the technological literacy. Further, prestigious universities, schools and other institutes have tried and tested educational methods and any new technology needs to ensure it has the credentials to ensure student confidence.

There are differing policies and practices in place across each of the countries in Africa which vary in line with the developing legislative environment. This means that implementation in each jurisdiction needs to be tailored to avoid active pushback from government authorities. Having said this, sub-Saharan governments allocate around 18.4% of their government expenditure on education, and any investment that improves the efficiency of educational systems, are likely to be gratefully received.

Education Technology In Africa

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Ross Barfoot
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions