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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Ex-British MP to lead 200 trekkers up Mt Meru

1st March 2011

A former British parliamentarian is expected to lead 200 trekkers in climbing Mount Meru in preparation for the coming 'Africa e-learning conference' scheduled for Dar es Salaam in May, this year.

Briefing reporters here over the weekend, Dr Harold Elletson, who has just arrived in the country to make arrangements for the conference, said the event was expected to gather over 1,000 delegates from all over Africa.

"This will be the 6th international conference on ICT for development, education and training and is to take place in Dar es Salaam between May 25 and 27 this year,” Dr Elltson said.

The director of e-learning Africa, Dr Elletson is a former British Conservative Party member of Parliament for Blackpool North.

He explained that e-learning Africa was a key networking hub and target destination of Africa’s educational decision-makers, opinion leaders, experts and practitioners from public and private education, the corporate training sector, governments and public administration.

"Africa's only hope in education lies in making maximum use of digital technology, especially the internet because it is cheaper to access online information than to buy physical books for every subject," said the director.

"The Dar es Salaam event is also to be attended by education, ICT and finance ministers from over 10 African nations, as well as high level decisionmakers from governmental and inter-governmental organisations," Dr Elletson said.

"The Mount Meru event aims at raising funds to enable participants, who cannot pay for their own transport and other logistics to be able to attend,” the director added.

"Because everybody nowadays seems to target Kilimanjaro, we want to be different. Besides, Meru is more challenging to climb than Mt Kilimanjaro," said Dr Elletson.

The director has just climbed the active volcano peak, Mt Oldoinyo Engai (Tanzania's third highest peak) in Ngorongoro District.

Asked whether there have been any achievements recorded from the events that enter their sixth year of operation, Dr Elletson said there had been 114 per cent growth in attendance in 5 years with 1,778 participants recorded at the 5th edition of the conference held last year in Lusaka, Zambia.

"The event is a true African event with more than 85 per cent of the participants from Africa and there are 78 countries represented," said Dr Elletson.

He said it would be a high level conference programme featuring the work of nearly 350 speakers and chairpersons from 50 countries.

Over 40 per cent of Africa’s population is younger than 24 years. A total of 198 million Africans, 20 per cent of the continent’s population, are aged between 15 and 24 – the largest percentage of young people anywhere in the world.

Children (under the age of 15) account for another 20 per cent and e-learning Africa 2011 will focus on this group and its huge potential and highlight the importance of social skills and employability.

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