GeoICT4e project gets started

GeoICt4e -Social innovations in Geo-ICT education at Tanzanian Higher Education Instutions for improved employability project has got funding of 1 923 365 euros from HEI ICI programme for the time period of 4 years, starting from 1 September 2020 and continuing to 31 August 2024.

The main outcome of ‘GeoICT4e’ is that the Tanzanian universities have improved management and teaching capacities in the impact-driven and socially innovative geospatial and ICT education, leading to graduates’ better employment.

The Higher Education Institutions Institutional Cooperation Instrument (HEI ICI) supports cooperation projects between higher education institutions in Finland and the developing world. The projects support the HEIs as they develop their subject-specific, methodological, educational and administrative capacity. The programme is funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and administered by the Finnish National Agency for Education.

Geospatial-ICT technologies are making an impact lead due to globally accessible solutions. We are witnessing a massive growth of innovations built on open digital geospatial data through affordable mobile technologies, and these are tackling major challenges, such as rapid urbanization, degradation of marine and land environments, and humanitarian crises. The number of experts needed is growing, but also the required skills, capabilities and attitudes are changing. New generation HEI graduates need to be competent with the novel technologies, but equally they need to master the interface between technologies’ potential and societies’ emerging needs, working in a multi-stakeholder environment creating innovative and impact-based solutions.

Key results to be achieved:

1. The Tanzanian universities have improved management and teaching capacities in socially innovative geospatial and ICT education

2. Students have open access and wider usage of digital e-learning assets in the Tanzanian HEIs

3. The Tanzanian Geospatial and ICT students have improved digital skills and multi-competences at undergraduate level (BA, BSc)

 

GeoICT4e achieves this transformation by focusing on critical elements of the HEIs education capacities. Firstly, we improve the HEIs and their staff’s capacities and skills to plan and implement multi-competence learning (MCL) solutions in their teaching. Secondly, we improve open access and wider usage of digital e-learning assets in the Tanzanian HEIs for the students and thirdly, we improve students’ digital skills and multi-competences in Tanzania. We advance the HEIs institutional uptake and management capacities related to the aforementioned outputs, and especially HEIs ability to reach wider audience with the Geospatial-ICT education. The central vehicle for education transformation in GeoICT4e is the students’ multicompetence learning (MCL) process, which happens via co-creative challenge campaigns organized in close cooperation with the innovation ecosystem actors and problem owners. This methodology enables the HEIs to catalyze a change, which we identify as ‘socially innovative geospatial and ICT education transformation’.

GeoICT4e is grounded on the long-term and well-established cooperation between University of Turku (UTU) and the four Tanzanian HEIs (UDSM, ARU, SUA, SUZA). Collaboration is now expanding with three added partners: TUAS and Novia UAS from Finland, and MoCU from Tanzania. The joint effort of Our large eight-university consortium enables development and institutional delivery of innovative and scalable geospatial and ICT e-learning services for Tanzanian HEI students, and beyond.

“GIS DAY Tanzania” – GEOICT-project collaboration with various local and international stakeholders in 2017

Since our consortium goals are targeting for substantially broader learning impacts than before, we work in close cooperation with the local innovation and entrepreneur ecosystem and government sector actors, and the World Bank -funded by Tanzania Resilience Academy. We participate local communities through citizen panels to our challenge campaigns and create public awareness for inclusive and informed decision-making in Tanzania.

Application for GeoICT4e successfully submitted

While the GeoICT project is gradually ending, we have submitted a new HEI-ICI proposal “GeoICT4e” – e referring to employment – for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Our new project initiative builds on the success of the previous two HEI ICl-projects between Tanzanian universities and University of Turku, but this time, we are more geared towards scaling geospatial and ICT skills for societal innovations in the Tanzanian society and beyond. As the name implies, geospatial and ICT skills are still the core elements, but now we trust on co-designing innovative education and societal solutions with innovation sector actors.

The final application for this new project was submitted on April 16, after a 9 month-long preparation period. New partners are Moshi Co-operative University, Turku University of Applied Sciences and Novia University of Applied Sciences. So the team is large – eight universities.

Planning started in August 2019 with a week-long workshop in Turku with participants from all universities, except Moshi, who joined the team physically in the second application phase. The intensive working week at UTU resulted into a first phase application, which proved to be a success: when the results of the first round were published just before Christmas, the application was ranked first among 67 applications from various universities in Finland. Encouraged by this, we used the same approach during the second application round, to which we were invited with 20 other applicants.

This time we met at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania. Now emphasis was on details like the budget, work plan and risk assessment. Joint planning sessions were mixed with group work and bilateral talks, all ending in a much more detailed, if still rough plan for the project.

After the planning seminar in Tanzania, there was still a lot of homework to do for all parties. The HEI ICl-secretariat in Finland gave good, additional advice for filling in the various forms, and the individual universities collected the information needed for the finalization of the application. The final product was submitted on April 16th, in good time before deadline.

All together, more than 20 people were actively involved in the planning process, half in Finland and half in Tanzania. Niina Käyhkö from the University of Turku did a remarkable job in both inspiring the team and to keeping it all together, as well as finalizing the project document before it was submitted.

We are expecting to hear from the HEI ICI secretariat in late June, hopefully in the form of a message saying the application of 1,95 million euros for 4 years is accepted. Hopefully the real work can then start in August 2020. If not physically due to COVID-19, then very much in close cooperation virtually and online, that is for sure!

Facts

Name of project: GeoICT4e

Duration: 4 years

Number of experts listed: 47

Total budget: 2,45 million euros

Participating universities:

University of Dar es Salaam

Ardhi University

State University of Zanzibar

Sokoine University of Agriculture

Moshi Co-operative University

University of Turku

Turku University of Applied Sciences

Novia University of Applied Sciences

Geo-ICT pilot courses running in Tanzania

The Tanzanian partner universities have reviewed and developed several curricula and courses as part of the Geo-ICT project. We aim to collect feedback from the students of each partner university regarding at least one course during 2019, to be able to measure the success of the curriculum development work done.

At one of the partner universities, Sokoine University of Agriculture, the BSc Forestry second year students have just been taking part in such a pilot course where a new practical session on GIS and remote sensing was developed, aimed at enhancing the students’ capacity to apply geospatial technologies in the management of forest resources.  The feedback shows a positive response from the students, emphasizing how the course has advanced the application of theoretical knowledge to practical skills. Using free and open-source software in the course is also a sustainable solution for the future, and allows the students to continue practicing on their own.

Thank you for the good work, course instructors at SUA: Dr. Ernest Mauya, Mr. Hery Kayeye and Mr. Cosmas John!

 

Geo-ICT Entrepreneurship and Innovation workshop week in Dar es Salaam

Author: Emma Nkonoki / Geo-ICT team

An inspiring workshop week related to entrepreneurship and innovation was held as a collaborative effort of the Geo-ICT team in March 2019 in Dar es Salaam. The aim of the workshop week was to foster a close working connection and partnership between higher education institutions and the innovation ecosystem. Each Geo-ICT partner university took part in the facilitation of the event, and participants came from the academia, hubs, and startup sector. The actual workshops took place in 5 different hubs in Dar, so that each day of the week the participating group moved from one hub to another: the week started at Smart lab, then continued to Ndotohub, Sahara Ventures, Twigalpha and ended at Buni Hub for the final session.

In the workshops, the participating startups presented their challenges to the team, after which the university participants worked together with the startup entrepreneurs to brainstorm solutions to the challenges. The workshops were of interactive nature and each group presented their results at the end of the day. During the week, different tools were used to solve the challenges and the focus on each day varied; for example, some days focused more on business models and others on stakeholders. On the final day, the university participants and representatives from each hub gathered at Buni hub to go through the events and achievements of the week.

All in all, the week was a success, and the participants from academia and business alike praised the style of the workshops. Moving from one hub to another meant the participants were exposed to different environments and different challenges each day of the week. This was exciting and made participants more curious as the days went by. Also the networking part of the week worked out very nicely, as the university staff were able to connect with people from the startup sector and work together. The connections started to form and could be witnessed before the week had ended. The workshop week truly gave a chance to think deeper on how academics can work together with the hubs and entrepreneurs to help the learning process of their students.

Thank you to all participants and facilitators for the successful event!

Watch a video from the workshop here.

Trainings held so far

In the Geo-ICT project, the staff of partnering universities has been trained in the following topics:

  • Introduction to geoinformatics (November 2017)
  • Pedagogy for teaching staff (March 2018)
  • Remote sensing with open source tools (March 2018)
  • Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Education (October 2018)
  • Pedagogy, Research skills, GIS, remote sensing (several short courses, September-November 2018)
  • Innovation lead education and problem based learning (March 2019)

Materials access for project partners with the UTU login

Tanzania’s preparedness for climate challenges is supported by cooperation between the Geo-ICT partners

Photo credits: Ramani Huria, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ramanihuria/
The World Bank has granted funding for the five Geo-ICT partners, University of Turku, Ardhi University, Sokoine University of Agriculture, State University of Zanzibar, and University of Dar es Salaam in developing geospatial expertise to control risks posed by floods and climate change. Cities in Tanzania are especially vulnerable to the extreme phenomena caused by climate change due to population growth and weak urban planning.

According to estimates, as much as 95% of the growth in global urban population in the next 20 years will take place in rapidly developing countries such as Tanzania. Each year, Dar es Salaam suffers from extensive floods that destroy infrastructure and threaten citizens’ health and well-being. The changing climate is expected to cause new obstacles for development in the country’s growing cities. Geospatial expertise and using new, innovative technologies support the follow-up and management of urban environments.

Heavy rains and poor drainage cause rapid floods in cities like Dar es Salaam, where many people reside in flood-risk areas.

– Lack of geospatial data hinders the development of rapidly changing countries. With its five-year Tanzania Urban Resilience Project, the World Bank has supported the development of a new and openly available knowledge base for mapping urban environments and identifying flood risks. The data has been collected, for example, with drones and citizens and university students’ voluntary work. However, Tanzania will need experts to process and use the digital data. The universities are now meeting this educational challenge, says Associate Professor Niina Käyhkö from the Department of Geography and Geology from the University of Turku.

In the World Bank’s Urban Resilience project, Dar es Salaam neighbourhoods have been mapped with student and voluntary participation.

The objective of the new Tanzania Urban Resilience Academy project funded by the World Bank is to create permanent practices for geospatial education and research especially in the sustainable development sector both in Tanzania and Finland. – This can be achieved with academic collaboration where the University of Turku and the Tanzanian universities have long traditions. Aided by Finnish development co-operation funding, we have collaborated institutionally with the Tanzanian universities in geospatial research and education for 15 years. Now our collaboration is supported by the World Bank, says Käyhkö, who also leads the Resilience Academy project.

New Map Service from Geospatial Data

In the project coordinated by the University of Turku, geospatial data is pooled together and developed into, for example, a web-map service that helps in predicting floods. – The map service will be realised with open source solutions in collaboration with the IT Services of the University of Turku. The service is public and anyone with an internet access can use it, describes Käyhkö.

One of the aims of the project is to digitalize the mapped information and make it publicly available for anyone to use.

Geospatial Expertise Increased by Developing Education

The Resilience Academy project plans new education modules on collecting, managing and visualising geospatial data as well as sustainable urban planning. – Furthermore, we will develop new forms of internships that support students both in their academic learning goals and in increasing their practical geospatial expertise, says Käyhkö.

The Resilience Academy project is carried out in 2019–2020. The World Bank is funding the universities through the Tanzania Urban Resilience programme. The Resilience Academy project coordinated by the University of Turku is realised by the Ardhi University, University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture and State University of Zanzibar in Tanzania.

Original press release on the University of Turku web page

Tanzanian young experts’ visit to Finland

During September – November 2018, we had the pleasure to host a group of seven young project experts at the University of Turku (UTU) in Finland, Departments of Geography and Geology, and Future Technologies. The experts came from the project’s four Tanzanian partner universities, and different scientific backgrounds. They all work as teaching staff at their home departments.

The young experts’ visit included activities related to research and pedagogical capacity building, different kind of geospatial and IT skills trainings, and visits to interesting institutions and stakeholders in Turku and Helsinki. For the three months time period the group spent in Finland, they had the chance to get to know Finnish university working culture as visiting researchers at the two UTU departments, working closely with the local Geo-ICT team. The three months also taught them about the Finnish culture in general, as they often wondered: “How many saunas can you have in one country!”.

 

With also many leisure time activities and sharing an exciting experience of living abroad together, the group quickly formed into a team which, for sure, will be collaborating also in the future. This is beneficial and valuable not only for the project, but the institutions they represent. The Geo-ICT project will continue to support the young experts’ skills and career enhancement during the rest of the project.

Geo-ICT activities 2017

As the wrap-up of last year’s project activities is topical right now, it is time to look back and see what we have achieved during the first year of our Geo-ICT project. Since the beginning of the project, we have organized several workshops and trainings for the project staff and stakeholders. In the project kick-off seminar (May 2017), we planned the shared project activities and organised a stakeholder seminar to spread the knowledge of the project to the Geo-ICT community in Tanzania.

During a 14-day visit of the eight Tanzanian project coordinators  to Turku, Finland in September 2017, we had diverse trainings and workshops including pedagogical training, baseline workshops, stakeholder visits and field trips. We also organized a Tanzania Networking Day, in which the afternoon was reserved for a workshop covering topics of business culture in Tanzania, universities as enablers of innovation development and public-private partnerships in the fields of geospatial technologies and ICT.

A 5-day training “Introduction to geoinformatics” was held in Dar es Salaam for 16 participants during November. The training included both theory and practice of the basics of geospatial technologies with open source software, and also provided an opportunity for discussion about the opportunities of these technologies in Tanzanian society and education system. In November we also organised a two day user-centered innovation workshop in Dar es Salaam,where we experimented how user centered design and prototyping methods can be used to bring local contextual knowledge in the innovation process solving problems.

In addition to trainings and workshops, we have participated in many events, collected baseline information about the partner universities, gathered a Geo-ICT stakeholder database, initiated the design and review of 8 curricula, and lots more. The project continues with the same positive flow during 2018!

GIS day Tanzania

Several geospatial organizations, businesses and education institutions gathered to celebrate the GIS day Tanzania and present their activities to the public at Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam on November 15th.  The Geo-ICT project team participated in GIS day Tanzania this year as both organizers and exhibitors. In addition to the GIS exposition, the afternoon programme included presentations and lively discussion about the use of GIS in Tanzania.