If the condition of primary and secondary education in Africa is bad, the state of university education on the continent is much worse. Apart from being poorly run, the number of universities in Africa cannot cope with the huge (and growing) number of university-ready students every year. More young Africans are desperate for a university degree because of the competitive advantage it provides in the job/labor market. However, the number of universities on the continent is not enough to cater to this overwhelming demand.
In Nigeria alone, only one-third of about two million candidates who write university entrance exams every year will gain admission into a government-owned university. The remainder (if they can afford it) will try to enroll in one of the few and expensive private universities in the country. Strikes by university staff, which commonly disrupt and extend the academic calendar in many public universities almost every year, are also one of the main reasons for the growing profile and preference for private-owned universities in Nigeria. And indeed, the Nigerian story is quite similar to many other African countries.
Although setting up a private university is much more capital-intensive than a primary or secondary school, the huge demand for university education in Africa justifies any business investment in the sector. In fact, it is projected that African students spend upwards of US$3 billion every year to pursue graduate and post-graduate university education outside the continent (especially in Europe and North America).
The increasing likelihood of employers to choose foreign-trained graduates over local ones is putting more pressure on the demand for high-quality and international-standard university education across Africa. Private universities with standards and quality that are similar and comparable to foreign universities have a strong competitive advantage in Africa.
More parents and students are likely to prefer this option as they are considered to be closer to home and much cheaper (low travel and accommodation costs). Africa‘s university education industry will definitely be an exciting sector to watch in the coming years.
Some smart entrepreneurs are already partnering with foreign-based universities to set up satellite campuses in Africa. Others are using distance-learning and online courses to break into Africa‘s lucrative university education market. Both are very successful business models you could adopt. As so often, it is important that you start with an approach that looks achievable to you personally – you can always expand that later into a grander version.
Online courses are an interesting trend. They‘ll surely change how Africans learn in the near future.
Specific focus – such as Business Schools, Vocational and Technical Colleges.
Top Countries & Policy Guidance
This is again a sector that needs investment and input across Africa. There are some countries that are known for a relatively widespread higher educational system – South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia belong to those countries – with Kenya providing some of the best education on the continent.
Action & Tips
Visit Africa‘s top 100 university rankings for 2023 and the respective websites of several universities to understand what it takes to become a top institution. http://www.4icu.org/topAfrica/
Agribusiness is becoming hip in several countries among students who witness how peers and other entrepreneurs are earning a good return in this sector. It‘s a course with great potential that you could offer to students.