The Mastercard Foundation, an international non-governmental organisation, kicked off its inaugural EdTech conference on Monday in Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, with a conversation on advancing education with technology.

“How do we build resilient and inclusive EdTech ecosystems?” asked Rosy Fynn, Country Director Nigeria, Mastercard Foundation, in a hall of over 500 people.

She posed this question to the opening panel: Dr Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy; Joseph Nsengimana, Director, Mastercard Foundation Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning; and Albert Nsengiyumva, Executive Secretary, Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA).

Tijani pointed out the need for a growing literacy agenda where Africans can be digital literates, as well as bridging a connection between the government and private sector. For Nsengimana, success in EdTech can be achieved when ecosystem players design a forward pathway with inclusivity in mind. One solution is a collaboration between EdTech innovators, telcos, and the government. Nsengiyumva called for more synergy between policymakers, and foundations invested in education.

Joseph Nsengimana, the director of the Mastercard Foundation Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning, said conversations regarding helping EdTech companies are part of why the conference is hosted in Nigeria.

“We want to bring stakeholders and the government together to have conversations about what is missing, ” said Nsengimana on the sidelines of the conference. “What is your wish list? What goals do you want to see that will make your job easier.”

With over 200 tech hubs in Africa, funding constraints have slowed growth in the EdTech sector. Despite receiving $81 million of investments in 2021, the number of funded companies in Africa fell from 29 in 2021 to 23 in 2023.

Limited access to internet connectivity, infrastructure, and electricity are some of the roadblocks to EdTech’s growth. Funding constraints and scalability also emerged as critical pain points.

The Mastercard Foundation hopes to address these issues by sharing successful strategies and fostering ICT innovations.  “If you look at the publishing, the publishers are making money from books. How can we make it make sense for the investor? Nsengimana added.

The Foundation plans to facilitate knowledge sharing among the 144 startups it has already supported.

Joseph Olaoluwa Senior Reporter, TechCabal

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