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How Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Technology Can Help Organizations Revolutionize Distance Learning in Africa's Rural Communities
How Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Technology Can Help Organizations Revolutionize Distance Learning in Africa's Rural Communities

Application of IVR in Distance Learning

Written by Diviniah Mbaire
Updated over a week ago


According to a report by the United Nations (UN), 45% of the world’s population lives in rural areas, with Asia and Africa being home to nearly 90% of the world’s rural population. However, due to the extremely rapid rates of urbanization, world problems such as poverty, unemployment, and pollution may exacerbate.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the UN that works to address poverty and hunger, published a report which suggests that “The starting point for a world without poverty and hunger, is the rural world”. It is therefore imperative to empower and invest in rural communities.

There have been significant efforts by the governments and humanitarian organizations in Africa to empower rural communities in a bid to stimulate rural economies and reduce extreme poverty and youth unemployment. These organizations offer vocational training to different groups of people in rural communities such as farmers, health workers, the youth, etc., to equip them with the necessary skills required to excel in the activities they partake in for their livelihood.

The Problem

While vocational training is capable of providing a wide range of skills to rural communities in Africa, there is a lack of local provision for such training. Although many organizations have been established for the sole purpose of educating and training rural communities, most of them operate from urban centers where there is better infrastructure. This means that instructors have to travel to rural areas for training purposes, which presents several challenges, including:

  • Physical distance and inaccessibility of some areas: Most rural areas are far away from the city, with some being difficult to access due to poor roads. Therefore, instructors have to travel to these communities, which can be quite expensive and wearisome.

  • Lack of skilled educators in rural areas: Unlike urban areas, where there is a glut of talented educators, rural areas lack such talent, and the skilled ones seek better opportunities in urban areas.

  • Lack of resources: To train large groups, resources like training halls, electricity, and learning materials such as videos, recordings, hardware, and software are required. Some communities, however, lack the funding to facilitate training and have to rely on their financing or organizations that offer it.

The Solution

Due to these challenges, organizations that aim to offer free training to underserved communities in rural Africa have opted for distance learning to offer training. Distance learning is the type of study that is conducted beyond physical space and is aided by technology. Study material is shared via an agreed-upon technology such as email, Instant Messaging, WhatsApp, blog posts, or IVR which has proven to be the most effective technology for distance learning in rural Africa.

IVR is an automated system that utilizes any type of phone to deliver information to users by voice through audio recordings and allows them to give feedback by pressing a key that corresponds to their choice. For several reasons, IVR has become the go-to technology for organizations that wish to offer effective training to groups of people in rural communities, such as farmers, women, youth, health workers, etc.

Benefits of IVR Technology

How can Mteja help? is a cloud telephony service provider based in Nairobi, Kenya, that enables African businesses to streamline their business communication and take customer experience to the next level. We provide a reliable, scalable, plug-and-play platform that enables businesses to engage their customers effectively.

Our IVR solution allows businesses to set up effortlessly without the need for tech experts. This significantly helps in cutting down on development and tech support costs and time.

Here’s how Mteja’s IVR solution can enable organizations to offer training to communities in rural areas:

Audio library: This feature allows you to create and manage audio files. You can either create the training material audio from text, record it on the web dashboard, or upload pre-recorded audio files.

Mteja's flow builder: You can visually design and customize multi-level interaction call flows and menus by dragging and dropping. Participants can dial in when they want to listen to a training recording, or you can create an automated call broadcast to reach them at a specific time.

Offer training from anywhere: Our cloud call center enables mobility to train communities from anywhere. For example, an organization registered in Kenya can offer training to communities in Nigeria and vice versa, making it easy for organizations to centralize or decentralize certain operations.

Data collection: You can collect data through pre-recorded interactive messages that allow participants to respond using the keypad on their phones. The data collected could include the participants’ demographics such as gender, age, location, or answers to questions about the training topic. This data is captured on a dashboard, which automates insights and reports about the project.

Reporting and Analytics tool: This provides a comprehensive report on the number of people called successfully, the number of retries, the number of recipients who listened to the end, and the information collected during the call.

Use Cases

Some of Mteja’s customers are already making a difference in rural communities by using our IVR solution for distance learning and training purposes. Komaza, a forestry company that partners with smallholder farmers in Kenya to plant trees for sale as sustainable wood products, needed an IVR platform to help them empower and train farmers in the coastal region on good farming practices.

Mteja’s ready-made IVR solution enabled Komaza to reach out to thousands of farmers via scheduled, recorded broadcasts. The recordings were available in Swahili and Giriama, which are the most common local dialects in the coastal region.

Through Mteja’s online dashboard, they were able to view a comprehensive report on the number of farmers called successfully, the number of retries, the number of recipients who listened to the end, as well as the information collected during the call, e.g., the language selected by recipients. Our IVR solution enabled Komaza to run its project seamlessly by offering a one-stop-shop where they could engage with their participants.

To learn more about Mteja’s IVR solution, please visit this link.


The potential for distance learning among communities in rural Africa is huge, but it cannot be all plain sailing when the wrong technology is used. However, due to advances in IVR technology, the future is looking fairly bright for distance learning in Africa.

If you are considering using IVR for training and distance learning, reach out to us at

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