Panel 36

Reaching wider worlds: Educational mobility and Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D)

Panel organisers: Nima Shidende, School of Informatics, University of Dodoma, Tanzania.
Faraja Igira, Faculty of Mathematics and Computing, Institute of Finance Management, Tanzania.
Hector Mongi, School of Informatics, University of Dodoma, Tanzania.
Christina Mortberg, Linnaeus University, Växjo, Sweden.


Multiplicities of mobilities are very common in the African continent and manifests through rural-urban migration, labor, south to north migration, and refugees’ movements across African countries. It also manifests through small scale mobilities which do occur within the individual countries such as, children migrating from home to street (street children), beggars moving around residential areas or town centers, movements of HIV positive clients’ between healthcare units to avoid social stigma attached to HIV, movement of healthcare clients between healthcare units in search of better maternal and child healthcare services, and mobility of disabled citizens in urban/rural in search of better path. Mobility has some aspects of empowerment in the perspective of the individuals practicing it since they view those physical movements as a means of accessing better opportunities such as jobs, safety, privacy and social services.

There are insights in the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) literature on how Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) affect the opportunity for migration and how they affect its outcomes. For example, the use of mobile phones, internet, and social media has proved to simply communication and interactions of migrants with their family/friends residing in their home countries. However, previous literature provides more understanding of how ICT shape mobility and less on how mobility shapes ICT design and adoption.

This panel aims to advance our theoretical, methodological and empirical understanding on the interplay of ICT4D and mobilities practices. Specifically the focus is on how mobilities practices are impacting design, adoption, implementation and use of ICT tools. Key focal areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Case studies depicting design and implementation Information and Communication Technologies to support mobilities.
  • Theoretical or methodological approaches for understanding the influence of mobilities on design, adoption and usage of ICT.
  • Impact of different multiplicities of mobilities in shaping information management practices/knowledge exchange practices in different organizations.
  • ​Information technologies design approaches that take mobilities practices into account.

Approved abstracts panel 36

1. Constructing the Field for Informing ICT Design for Mobile Populations

Author: Nima Shidende, School of Informatics, The University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

Research strategies are among the techniques employed by design facilitators to generate knowledge for informing the design of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).  This knowledge is not context free and thus, design facilitators are urged employing proper research strategies (e.g. ethnography, participatory design, action research, etc) that foster engagement with population studied in order to have in-depth knowledge of the contextual issues. Moreover, it is asserted that design facilitators who use engagement techniques through continuous involvement and reframing of field and design practices through the design process, are more likely to generate contextual knowledge that meets the needs of their participants. Nevertheless, research indicates that design facilitators might face challenges when they use the aforementioned research strategies in geographically distributed settings due to possibility of existence of minimal interactions and absence of continuous engagements with their participants. Similarly, mobile populations (e.g. street children, beggars, refugees) are in constant movement across different geographical localities. The use of recommended research strategies for generating the knowledge on the context of mobile populations could provide a similar aforementioned challenge to their design facilitators. This study provides insights on techniques for constructing the field in order to generate knowledge on the context of mobile populations since there are minimal insights about the phenomena in the African literature and eventually inform the design of ICT for mobile population. The research design employed is interpretive and qualitative strategy for data analysis. Empirical materials were gathered through interviews and document review methods. Findings indicate that design facilitators who are researching mobile populations need additional research techniques for engaging some categories of mobile populations not only due to their characteristics of being mobile but also because they lead uncertain lifestyle. The article concludes by recommending future research strategies for informing the design of ICT for mobile populations in the African context.

2. Living the Silicon Valley Dream in Nigeria – Reflections on Realities of Tech Start-up Hubs in Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan

Authors: Eugenija Kovaliova & Mante Makauskaite, AfriKo – Africa Research and Consultancy Center.

In August 2016 Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, visited Nigeria and met with developers and entrepreneurs in one of the TechHubs – Co-Creation Hub – in Yaba (or Yabacon), which is referred to as Lagos’ Silicon Valley “equivalent”. This brought significant international attention as well as high expectations for Nigerian start-ups, who seemed to start believing that they can live a Silicon Valley Dream in Lagos, Abuja or other places around the country despite the power shortages, slow connectivity to Internet and other infrastructural challenges. A number of TechHubs in Nigeria (and other African countries) has been indeed booming[1] and providing with a promise for a prosperous future of young “techpreneurs” who will solve Africa’s problems through various ICT4D applications. However, besides general mapping of TechHubs in Africa, there is little research whether this promise can be delivered, what are the local, international and diaspora players within this field, their motivations and potential impact. One can notice that mobility plays a role in this context, as the community of “techpreneurs” is dominated by returnees with certain global connections, experiences and knowledge from ‘abroad’. On the one hand these connections bring resources, on the other – generate risks of losing touch with local realities. As Ola Brown, founder of Flying Doctors, puts it, Silicon Valley-ism in Africa has actually held us back as we continue to build great products that aren’t useful to our people. AfriKo, through its current project oriented towards connecting Nigerian ICT entrepreneurs with Lithuanian ICT expertise, is researching the Nigerian TechHubs ecosystem. The stories of various Tech Start-Ups incubators and accelerators, collected during AfriKo fieldwork in Lagos, Abuja and Ibadan, will lay the ground of the paper and will attempt to open a larger discussion on local entrepreneurial eco-systems, the various stakeholders involved, evolving local and global connections.

3. African educational mobility to China: the case of Sudan

Author: Samia Satti Osman Mohamed Nour, Economics Department, Faculty of Economic and Social Studies, Khartoum University, Khartoum, Sudan.

This paper uses both the descriptive and comparative approaches to discuss African educational mobility to China with particular focus on the case of Sudan over the period (1999-2018). This paper discusses the major development concerning the pattern, size, trend and distribution of migration of higher education students from Sudan to China, and examines the push-pull factors (economic, political, educational, etc.) causes and consequences of migration of higher education students from Sudan to China. We fill the gap in the African literature and present a more comprehensive and recent analysis of migration of higher education students from Sudan to China using UNESCO recent secondary data on international students mobility in tertiary education and recent data from Sudan Ministry of Higher Education. We provide an interesting comparative analysis of migration of higher education students from Sudan to China. Our findings support the first hypothesis that the pattern and size of migration of higher education students from Sudan to China increased substantially over the past years but the distribution showed considerable variation and biased towards specific specialization fields (Engineering, Science and related fields). Our results corroborate the second hypothesis that the increasing trend of migration of higher education students from Sudan to China is caused by several push-pull factors (e.g. economic, political, educational, etc.). Our results support the third hypothesis that migration of higher education students from Sudan to China lead to mixed positive and negative impacts (e.g. transfer of knowledge, brain gain and skill acquisition for returned migrant students, but weak capacity to retain talents and brain drain for non-returned migrant students). Our findings corroborate the fourth hypothesis that Chinese aid and development assistance to Sudan not only limited to financial capital but also include technical assistance in the form of scholarships for education that motivated educational mobility from Sudan to China.

Keywords: Educational mobility, migration of higher education students, Africa, Sudan, China, Chinese aid and development assistance.

4. China’s Bolstering Education Development in China-Africa Relations: Knowledge Sharing and Sustainability

Author: Ehizuelen Michael Mitchell Omoruyi, Center for Nigerian Studies at the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, China.

For decades, China has been unceasingly making headway on the modality and quality of educational collaboration with African nations. This educational collaboration comes through student exchange, joint initiatives (research) and special training programs for African educational officials, as well as other long and short-term training of Africans in China. On the other hand, in the discourse about China-Africa relations, technology transfer is one of the less investigated subjects; however, technology transfers have existed in China-Africa cooperation in the form of knowledge sharing. The paper explores the following: (i) ‘what’ are transferred through think tanks, academic publication, one-on-one inter-institutional cooperation, cooperation in research projects; and the improvement in the cooperation on technical and vocational education and training at tertiary level; (ii) the potential for cooperation in knowledge sharing between China and African countries that are core to economic development in the areas of manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture, medical, telecommunication and knowledge sharing from China’s development experience; and (iii) how access to information and knowledge sharing can stimulate and promote sustainable development. Chinese methods of teaching ‘how to develop’ based on its own experience may help fortify the independence of African nations and build win-win cooperation for long-term development.

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