Revenue from e-learning projects in Africa is expected to surge to more than US$512 million by 2016 after recording about $251 million in 2011, according to a new survey.

Supply and demand metrics for e-learning in Africa are evolving so fast that the market bears little resemblance to the competitive landscape as recently as two years ago, according to findings by U.S.-based market research company Ambient Insight.

According to the report, "Africa Market for Self-paced e-learning Products and Services: 2011-2016 Forecast and Analysis," Senegal has the highest growth rate in the e-learning market in Africa, followed by Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The report also said that owing to exceptionally promising market conditions in Africa, the region has the highest growth rate in the world for most types of e-learning products.

The report also presents results for Ethiopia, Angola, Algeria, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Last year, a report by eLearning Africa, an organization based in Germany, said most African countries have embraced technology in education. That survey was the first significant attempt to provide a snapshot of how ICT and better connectivity are believed to be changing the face of education in Africa.

Many countries in Africa, including Zambia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and South Africa, are running school connectivity projects in a bid to promote e-learning. Policymakers in many African countries are hoping that ICT will improve the quality of education in the region.

"We last year signed an agreement with Samsung Electronics to provide us with the necessary technology in education," Zambian Minister of Education John Phiri told Computerworld Zambia this week.

The Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), the country's telecom sector regulator, is setting up computer laboratories with Internet connectivity in schools across the country to enhance e-learning, according to ZICTA Chairperson Mwangala Ehueni.

However, critics argue that since many schools in Africa, especially in remote rural areas, are not connected to the national grid, e-learning should be backed by mechanisms to support rollout of cheap laptops and renewable energy like solar energy.

However, there are far-reaching academic digitalization projects in every country in the region, according to Tyson Greer, CEO of Ambient Insight.

"The sharp rise in online higher education enrolments is also nothing short of astonishing," Greer said in the report.

E-learning projects and products that will generate the highest revenue in Africa throughout the forecast period relate to packaged content, Greer said. According to the World Bank, seven of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa.