The present volume reflects some of the major growth areas in higher distance education in Africa. The Open University of Tanzania (Mmari) is one of the most recently established in a long line of autonomous, degree-granting distance-teaching universities across the world. The next open university is also likely to be African, in Zimbabwe. Arguably the oldest established open university of all is the University of South Africa, which currently finds itself only one of a number of dynamic single- and dual-mode distance teaching institutions in South Africa (Dodds, Nonyongo and Glennie). Africa has not seen the same widespread development of open universities which has characterised other regions of the world; in fact, almost twenty years ago it witnessed a notable failure—the unsuccessful attempts to set up an open university in Nigeria.
The Continent has a long history of distance education at university level, but this has generally been in the nature of dual-mode provision. Current developments in Southern Africa (Dodds, Nonyongo and Glennie) reflect the growing involvement of conventional universities in distance provision. This trend can also be observed in other African countries; the Universities of Nairobi, Kenya, and Lagos, Nigeria, for example, have both operated distance teaching programmes for many years, but they are by no means the sole providers of distance education in their respective countries.
A number of international agencies have been involved in projects and initiatives in Africa, some of which have proposed ambitious applications of new information and communications technologies, and in promoting international cooperation. The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), for instance, has been active in numerous ways over the last ten years, from encouraging the establishment of associations of distance-teaching institutions in East and West Africa to commissioning studies on the work of existing distance-teaching institutions to brokering exchange arrangements such as the use of education teaching materials from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, in Makerere University, Uganda. Latest information on its activities can be found on the COL Web site at http://www.col.org. The International Extension College, based in the United Kingdom, has been involved for almost