Since the late 1980s, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has been constantly at the forefront of developing and delivering training to strengthen the skills of trade and finance sector officials from developing countries and transition economies. In 2003, UNITAR’s Public Finance and Trade Programme (PFTP) progressively introduced new methodologies based on Information and Communication Technologies, such as e-Learning, to offer affordable and flexible training and networking opportunities to member states. To further enhance its outreach and effectiveness, PFTP has established strategic partnerships with several international institutions working in relevant thematic areas, including other UN Agencies.
Since 2011, UNITAR’s Public Finance and Trade Programme and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN ECA) have a very successful partnership around online learning. Eight instructor-led online courses have
been conducted to date with over 700 officials from all regions of Africa trained on strategic development issues including Regional Integration, Africa’s Growth Potential, Promoting Youth Employment, and Industrializing through Trade.
The success of the UN ECA-UNITAR partnership demonstrates that when the technology is well adapted, a suitable pedagogical approach exists and the content is relevant, online training platforms provide a stimulating and enriching learning experience for the individuals taking part in the courses. It also provides a concrete and successful example of a partnership between two UN institutions working together in the spirit of “Delivering as One” to better serve the needs of member states and individuals.
Building on this success, UNITAR and UN ECA’s African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP, Dakar) agreed in May 2017 on launching a project to strengthen the capacity of IDEP staff to independently develop and deliver online training programmes. As part of phase one of the project UNITAR will train key IEDP staff on developing content for online delivery and on managing and administering online training programmes. Under phase two of the project IDEP and UNITAR will jointly develop and deliver two online courses in English and in French based on UN ECA’s flagship report “2017 Economic Report on Africa: Urbanization and Industrialization for Africa’s Transformation”. The courses will be moderated by a team of UN ECA/IDEP experts and train 150 officials from all regions of Africa.
It is expected that the joint UN ECA/IDEP-UNITAR online courses will contribute to help African countries achieve greater industrialization and transformative development through deeper understanding of the underlying issues and increased policy dialogue.