Information and communication technology (ICT) is facilitating the process of socio-economic development in Africa. It has offered new ways of exchanging information, and transacting businesses, efficiently and cheaply. It has also changed the dynamic natures of financial, entertainment and communication industries and provided fluidic means of using the human and institutional capabilities of the continent in both the public and private sectors.
Increasingly, ICT is rapidly moving Africa towards knowledge-based economic structures and information societies, comprising networks of individuals, firms and nations that are linked electronically and in interdependent global relationships. This remarkable success of ICT in Africa and indeed globally since the dawn of the 20th century has been enabled by the phenomenal growth of the microelectronics technology. Microelectronics is the engine that drives the information age and without its constant evolution, ICT cannot advance. Unfortunately, the microelectronics industry does not have presence in Africa despite a hugely expanding ICT sector.
Over the years, many African schools have developed and taught courses on microelectronics. However, lack of institutional capabilities, like excellent facilities, teaching and learning environments have stalled its capacity to offer practical and relevant skills needed by its students to facilitate the diffusion of microelectronics technology from bottom-up approach in Africa. At present, no sub-Sahara African university or institution has a world-class microelectronics teaching and learning environments. We understand the challenge which has affected Africa’s capacity to develop world-class programs on microelectronics- the lack of adequate funding which partly affected the abilities to have the right mix of people, processes and tools.
Though we teach the techniques in African schools, the students never get to practice doing them. Poor teaching and learning environments have undermined the abilities of university teachers to develop some programs with potentials to make the students technology creators, and not just technology consumers. Across the globe, a paradigm is evolving; it is educating 360- i.e. educating from design specification to product market introduction. It is Hear it, See it, Touch it and Do it’. This is what we envisage in all the schools and we are optimistic that availability of excellent learning environment will enable us attract African experts abroad to join local schools towards developing the industry and building Africa.
Further, because of the rapidly-growing Africa’s telecommunication sector and the identification of microelectronics as a major research thrust area to help develop Made-in-Africa’s infrastructure, the stage is set for any African university and its partners to develop one of the model microelectronics programs in the continent. This Made-in-Africa’s products will cover the full spectrum of products, such as cell phones, microprocessors, cameras, etc.