Virtual Universities for African and Arab Countries

Wolfram LAASER

Internet development in Africa is constrained by poor telephone infrastructure, low international bandwidth and high dials up tariffs levied on internet users. This means in Africa we find actually app. 1% of worldwide internet users whereas population share of world population may be around 13%. Nearly half of the internet users are concentrated in South Africa. Another one percent of world users is located in the Middle East. Therefore it is understandable that Africa and the Arab world are latecomers in developing net based educational systems. However today donor organizations put strong emphasis on creating Virtual Campuses for African States (EC, Word Bank) and Mediterranean countries or plan to incorporate selected African States to other institutional arrangements (Commonwealth of Nations, UNESCO). In what follows we will discuss five of these projects differing in scope, structure and funding namely the Virtual African University, the Avicenna Project, the Virtual Arab University, the Syrian Open University and the proposal for a Virtual University for the Small States. From the analysis of the respective projects some tentative conclusions will be derived.

KEYWORDS: Developing Countries; e-Learning; Virtual Universities; Distance Education