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Distance Learning as a Solution for Education in Africa in the COVID-19 Context Roundtable

July 15, 2020




At the worst of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, more than 1.5 billion children were in need of online schooling, with more than 90% of the world’s enrolled students forced out of school. Extended school closures can have both short and long-term consequences, including hurting student achievements and hampering future economic opportunities.

In response to school closures, some African entrepreneurs and educators have developed distance learning as a solution, joining young leaders across the world who have stepped up to provide innovative technological solutions in distance education and online learning. However, the demand for remote learning has also exposed stark digital divides within countries; most children and youth in low- and middle-income countries lack access to high-speed broadband or digital devices and are further at risk of being left behind.

About the series

The World Bank and the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA) are partnering to organize regular roundtables on development topics. Their purpose is to allow dialogue among Africa’s youth, and prepare some youth-grown solutions to influence policymaking in Africa. 

After two roundtables successfully held, the first on April 18, 2020 – on trusted information sources on COVID-19 for youth- and the second on June 13, 2020 – on the Economic Impacts of COVID-19 and World Bank Support to Africa. This third roundtable will focus on distance learning as a solution for education in Africa in the COVID-19 context. 

For this third roundtable on World Youth Skills Day, the World Bank Africa Region and the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA) will be joined by the World Bank Digital Development department. They will explore the opportunities and constraints of distance learning from the perspective of Africans involved in online/distance learning.

    • Introduction and agenda (Amour Fredddy Bilombo, World Bank Blog4Dev 2019 winner, Congo)

    • Distance Learning as a Solution for Education in Africa in the COVID-19 context (Boutheina Guermazi, Director Digital Development, World Bank)

    • Understanding needs and constraints from the perspective of an educator in Africa

    • Josie Volaravo Dominique, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Economics, Management and Political Science at the University of Antsiranana (Madagascar)

    • Providing relevant solutions for the African context

    • Eric Pignot, Founder and CEO of Enko Education School (France)

    • Dima Sorri, Co-founder and CEO of “Explore AgoRa” (Egypt) 

    • Given Edward, Founder and CEO of Mtabe (Tanzania) 

    • Sidy Ndao, Founder of SenEcole and the Youth Pan-African Robotics Competition, PARC (US/Senegal)

    • Q&A (moderated by Franck Gbaguidi, analyst, Infrastructure Practice Group)

    • Take-Away (Eman Wahbi, External Affairs Officer at Egypt Country office, World Bank)

    • Closing remarks 


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    Boutheina Guermazi

    Director, Digital Development, The World Bank

    Dr. Boutheina Guermazi is the Director of Digital Development (DD) Department of the Infrastructure Practice Group of the World Bank. She heads a global team working on building digital economies in developing countries, to drive shared prosperity and reduced poverty. The team advises policymakers and regulators, works in collaboration with leading firms and partners, and designs investment and technical assistance programs to improve broadband connectivity and use of digital technology to address development challenges of client countries. The work covers a wide area of focus including broadband networks, mobile networks, cloud infrastructure, internet of things, and big data analytics. The team works collaboratively across sectors to ensure the availability and use of digital government platforms, identification for development and other key foundations to harness digital development, while strengthening cybersecurity, privacy, and data protection. Dr. Guermazi also leads the Digital Development Partnership (DDP), a Multi-Donor Trust Fund focusing on Digital development globally. Prior to her role as Director, Dr. Guermazi was Practice Manager of Digital Development covering Africa and the Middle East regions of the World Bank. She also served as Lead Operations Officer in the Regional Integration Unit of the Africa region of the World Bank. During her tenure, she has written and published articles and book chapters on trade law, telecommunications policy, and regulatory reform. Before joining the World Bank, Dr. Guermazi was Assistant Professor at the University of Law and Political and Social Sciences of Tunis, and a Telecommunications consultant to the Sector Reform Unit at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Dr. Guermazi holds a Ph.D. in Telecommunications Law and Policy from the Faculty of Law at McGill University, Canada; an L.L.M. in International Law from Indiana University, USA; and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Law from the University of Tunis, Tunisia. She held a Fulbright Scholarship and was a research scholar at the University of Michigan (USA), the Social Science Research Council (USA), and the Center of Studies for Regulated Industries (Canada).


    Eman Wahby

    External Affairs Officer at Egypt Country Office, World Bank

    Eman has 20 years of professional experience, including 13 years of experience in international development with the World Bank. At the country and corporate level, she had experienced working with governments, civil society, youth groups, private sector, donors and multilateral organizations. During her work with the World Bank Group’s Senior Vice President, she had extensive engagements in Asia and supported the outreach of SDGs Partnership Fund in Asia and GCC. She is a fellow of UK Hansard program, a joint program between LSE and UK’s Hansard Society. She is passionate about youth entrepreneurship and green economy, responsible investing (SRI) and impact investing.


    Amour Freddy Bilombo

    Subsea Installation Engineer and Co-founder of FODAM Microfinance Institution in the Republic of Congo

    Freddy is a Subsea Installation Engineer who works for TOTAL – a major Energy company- in the Republic of Congo. As an Engineer in the Energy sector, his job consists of designing and installing sustainable and environmentally friendly oil transportation facilities solutions. Besides, he is the co-founder of FODAM, a Microfinance Institution (MFI) based in the Republic of Congo. FODAM helps entrepreneurs from the informal sector to have access to financial products and entrepreneurial knowledge. Freddy is a 2019 World Bank Blog4Dev Winner and a RFI Mondoblog fellow.


    Josie Volaravo Dominique

    Dean of the Faculty of Law, Economics, Management and Political Science at the University of Antsiranan, Madagascar

    Dr. Josie Volaravo Dominique, is the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Economics, Management and Political Science at the University of Antsiranana, in northern Madagascar. Lecturer in Political Science. Dr Dominique is passionate about the world of education, the transmission of knowledge and the training of young people in her country. After starting a career in consulting in France, this Afro-optimist returned to her home country convinced that education alone is the key to the development of the African continent. Having risen through the ranks of academic responsibility, starting as Head of Department, being Dean now gives her the latitude to change many things, to try to revolutionize the world of education for too long at half-mast. She says that when you start with not much, it's not difficult to put things in place. Malagasy pupils and students have the right to receive the means of an education of international standard and thus to compete with students from all over the world.  Josie has a master's degree in strategic management from Telecom Ecole de Management Sud Paris and a research master's degree in Political Studies from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris before doing her PhD on armed forces issues in the same school.


    Eric Pignot

    Founder and CEO of Enko Education

    Eric is Enko Education’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Enko Education is a network of 15 international schools across Africa. To cope with the closure of its schools and ensure continuity in education, Enko Education has implemented, in a few days, distance learning for all its students, using distance learning tools such as Zoom and Google Classrooms. Before Enko Education, Eric worked at BearingPoint, a management consulting firm. As an Engagement Manager, he helped his customers to improve their performance and scale. Eric is French, holds an MBA degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he focused his MBA experience on understanding how digital technologies will transform education in Sub-Saharan Africa.


    Sidy Ndao

    Founder of SenEcole and the youth Pan-African Robotics Competition (PARC)

    Sidy Ndao, an avid advocate for education issues in Africa, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Before joining UNL in 2012, Ndao worked for two years as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Chemical Engineering Department and the Institute of Soldier Nanotechnology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Ndao is the founder of SenEcole, an organization whose goal is to promote STEM education for the sustainable development of Africa. A strong believer in introducing STEM education early on in children’s education, he founded the youth Pan-African Robotics Competition. Ndao recently created the Dakar American University of Science & Technology (DAUST) in Senegal. DAUST provides instruction and research opportunities for undergraduates and graduates in the fields of engineering and technology to foster the development of technological solutions that address Africa’s societal needs and challenges.


    Dima Sorri

    Co-founder and CEO of Explore AgoRa

    Dima Sorri, is a graduate of School of Pharmacy from the University of Jordan. In 2017, she and a group of education experts co-founded an application “Explore AgoRa”. AgoRa is a gamified interactive educational mobile application that incorporates real-life objects into learning activities allowing users to have an authentic and relevant learning experience. Its solution is to create and maintain student engagement through fostering to children’s instinctive curiosity about the world and bridging it with the learning outcomes through the app.


    Given Edward

    Founder and CEO of Mtabe

    Given Edward is a social entrepreneur innovating for education. After working with a number of young organizations in different aspects locally and internationally, Given ventured in Education technology and created MyElimu a platform that connects secondary school students from different schools to meet online and discuss anytime, from anywhere. A year later in 2015, Given received an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his works for and with young people. He was also given a distinction as a Royal Commonwealth Associate Fellow, a distinction given to exceptional young people across the Commonwealth. Edward, is also the founder and CEO of Mtabe, a startup that uses artificial Intelligence and SMS technology to deliver learning content to students who cannot afford textbooks and do not have internet access.


    Franck Gbaguidi

    Analyst, Infrastructure Practice Group, World Bank

    Franck Gbaguidi currently works as an Analyst to the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure. Previously, he worked as a Jr. International Affairs Associate at the Paris office of the World Bank, supporting the institution’s country dialogue with French stakeholder groups and analyzing data on European policy trends. He also worked as a Program Manager at the French National School of Administration (ENA), where he was in charge of designing and supervising study visits on public policy for African and Middle Eastern high-ranking civil servants. Passionate about energy efficiency and climate change, Franck has undertaken consultancy work on carbon risk management for the European Investment Bank (EIB) and on clean cooking businesses for the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). A French native and Beninese national, Franck holds a Master in Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris and a Master in Public Administration from Columbia University.


  • WHERE: Online
  • WHEN: Wednesday, July 15, 2020
  • TIME: 4:00 pm (EAT), 3:00 (CAT), 2:00 pm (GMT), 9:00 am (EST)