The digitization phenomena characterised by new technologies innovated out of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is shaping 21st century in many ways. According to World Economic Forum report on Understanding the Impact of Digitization on Society, digital transformations brought by new technologies have significant impact on our society and many aspects of our lives have been transformed by these technologies. However, this transformation demands digital skills and competencies necessary to exploit the development potential of existing and emerging digital technologies (UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development Report). Higher learning and research institutions (HERIs) are key stakeholders in providing every citizen with skills and competencies required for working and living in the ever-changing digital world. To this effect, well-paced digital transformation in the teaching, learning and research processes is inevitable and should be focused towards the needs of sustainable development and individual fulfilment of digital economy.
Recent developments in the emerging technologies has accelerated change in technologies that have started to show major implications in the transportation sector, tourism sector, health sector as well as in education and research. To cite just a few examples of the matured breakthrough technologies: artificial intelligence, analytics, big data, social media, augmented reality, mobile technologies, blockchain, cloud computing, open education resources, robotics and shared economy applications. These technologies have renewed interest in HERIs to investigate their potential to solve the existing education and research challenges and shape the future of education and research. To unleash the potentials of digital transformation that are brought about by innovation, HERIs needs to investigate, adopt and apply digital technologies while being informed by debates and development in different sectors, especially the industry.
The collaboration between academia and industry has always been a hot topic among the research community, and the community generally acknowledges the inevitable necessity for this collaboration (AdMoRe). Specifically, Association of African Universities (AAU) in its 2015 report on Industry’s Engagement with African Universities acknowledge that there is increased recognition by national governments and international organizations of the crucial role university-industry partnerships can play in the development of Africa. Unfortunately, in Africa the potential for this important collaboration is yet to be explored. The nations that have explored this potential are also far away from excelling in managing it.
It is in this context that we are organizing International Conference on digital transformation on 10th and 11th September 2020 in Dar es salaam, Tanzania. This multi-sector international conference aims at focusing on the exchange of relevant research results and trends as well as presentation of practical experience on digital transformation in education and research. This international conference will enable researchers and practitioners to submit evidence-based research and case studies for continuing discussion on how better to digitally transform HERIs. In line with that, the conference seeks to create the synergy between academia and industry sectors to debate on how digital transformation can be leveraged to support stakeholders in HERI.