When people discuss the challenges related to e-learning (using electronic technology to facilitate learning), they tend to focus on access.
This can mean access to financial resources to buy equipment as well as geographical constraints: some regions are simply too remote and underdeveloped to be properly connected to the internet - or even the electricity grid - which are of course both crucial for e-learning systems.
There are also socio-cultural challenges to the use of e-learning, particularly in Africa. Critics argue that the use of e-learning in African higher education could erode African culture and identity. They fear that e-learning platforms might prioritise Western culture and that this is somehow "un-African". These critics fear that the use of e-learning will somehow destabilise the existing patterns and behaviours in African higher education.
However, based on my research, I would argue that e-learning is very important in Africa. This technology offers a chance to increase communication in the process of learning and to stretch educational offerings across borders.
E-learning can also allow academics to build new networks beyond their own borders. So while knowledge from and about the West can come to Africa, the reverse is also true: the continent's own knowledge can reach much further through e-learning.
There should be a drive across Africa to invest in
e-learning, as has been seen in similar economies like Latin America and India.
Most African countries have progressive policies related to e-learning, and have embraced it in theory. However, at the practice level, a lot still remains to be done - especially by those who must share this information: educators.
At the same time, mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that it's used without being perceived to undermine African people's efforts, knowledge and cultures.
Those who criticise e-learning because of its perceived threat to African cultural identities clearly see globalisation - and the resulting spread of technology and innovation - as a danger that aggravates the disparities between the Western world and African countries.