There is no doubt that one of the solutions to Africa’s lack of participation in the global information society is to improve access to quality education and educational materials and so the Open Educational Resources (OER) concept offers great potential for Africa. There is, however, a danger that Africans are consigned to the role of consumers of knowledge instead of producers and therefore Africa stands to gain by grasping the OER concept.
According to UNESCO’s definition, OER are digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research educational materials. This concept can only work if we, herein Africa, become more involved in the creation and adaptation of OER according to our specific needs. Institutional, nation African wide and international policy frameworks should be put in place to enable this to happen. In order to establish such a policy framework, African champions are needed on all levels to engage in awareness raising and capacity building around the concept of OER and to start up pilot projects. Moreover, OER networks should be developed which cannot only affect change on the policy level but also on our lives as the people of Africa.
As the 21st century unfolds, new challenges and opportunities are rising due to changes in the global environment. Among the most significant changes are the growing importance of knowledge as a catalyst of economic growth within the global economy, the revolution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the integration of the global labour market and world wide socio-political transformation. The developments have made access and production of knowledge an essential prerequisite for participation in the global economy. New information and communication technologies have significantly increased the speed of production, use and distribution of knowledge thus making a country’s economic and social well being dependent on how quickly it can adjust its capacity to share and generate knowledge.