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In Africa, Building Opportunity with Educational Technology

At the University of Oklahoma, Robert Bob Okello ’20 (Uganda, Red Cross Nordic UWC) designed his own academic concentration, an interdisciplinary approach to African development engineering. Today, as co-founder and CEO of Maarifasasa, a technology startup in Uganda, he works to help education providers, businesses and others in his country and elsewhere in Africa to use educational technologies in creative and empowering ways.

Based in Lira, Uganda, Maarifasasa (“Knowledge Now”) offers several core services. Through its Upskilling & Reskilling program, “We have partnered with Learnio.eu, a Danish social enterprise, to provide accessible and affordable digital skills education enhanced by online mentorship to Ugandan youths,” Robert Bob says. “In the wake of COVID-19, this has been one of our leading offerings.”

The firm also offers 3D virtual tours that can help education providers and industries, such as hospitality and real estate, “simplify how they work and connect with customers and vendors,” he says. The company’s platform for learning and training “offers organizations and schools/colleges the incredible ability to quickly deploy reskilling and upskilling programs for their people, to keep them learning for the long run.”

Maarifasasa is also a leader in bringing virtual and augmented reality to Ugandan education, “helping schools to immerse their learners into real-world experiences and make hands-on learning a reality,” says Robert Bob, who completed two Projects for Peace summer initiatives while at university. The goal, he concludes, is to “make education a truly powerful weapon that can be used to change the world, as Nelson Mandela alluded.”