Ten things you probably didn’t know about African universities.

Tell you what? There are loads of great things happening in universities in Africa, but they are usually understated. Excellent research, more extraordinary brains, and even more incredible innovations keep coming from African institutions for the betterment of humanity. Below are some of the 10 things you need to know about the institutions in Africa.

1. They have produced renowned scientists and scholars

Have you heard of the late Sameera Moussa, the Egyptian nuclear scientist? She was once a student at the Cairo University, and she later returned as the first woman lecturer at the university. She is among many bright minds that have come out of universities in Africa. There is also the Somali scientist Ahmed Mumin Warfa who was at one time a lecturer at the Somali National University and who made a mark in the field of botany. Then there are renowned personalities like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Prof Wangari Maathai, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others who were nurtured by African universities.

African researcher adjusting microscope lenses looking at the sample on a glass slide.

2. They have created remarkable innovations

Wherever humans are, there are problems that need to be solved, and thinkers based at African universities have been burning the midnight oil trying to create innovations to solve emerging problems. For instance, when the danger of Covid-19 was fully revealed to the world, innovators based at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya created solar-powered ventilators, an app that can help in contact tracing, among others. That was just one of the many innovations to have come from African universities, which range from making a range of products from water hyacinth, making shoe polish from the blackjack weed to the making of paving blocks from recycled plastic; there are a lot of solutions being created in African universities.

3. They are big on history studies

You’ve heard that Africa is the cradleland of humankind, haven’t you? African history is taught in a number of universities in Europe, America, and beyond. But can anything beat studying African history in an African university? The higher learning institutions in Africa are big on history courses, from undergraduate rights to postgraduate studies. From the University of Lagos to Moi University in Kenya to the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, someone seeking to study history has a rich menu to choose from.

4. You can study remotely

Administrators of universities in Africa have long embraced distance learning. And even before the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of universities had invested in distance learning tools. From the University of South Africa in Pretoria to the Kwame Nkrumah University in Ghana, institutions in Africa have great remote learning facilities that even someone not permanently based in the continent can use to study. Want to learn more about this? There is a website on distance learning in Africa that can give you a few tips.

Distance Learning.

5. The highest-ranked universities are in South Africa 

Every year, some organizations release rankings for universities across the globe. And the consistent pattern is that universities from South Africa fare better in the lists that consider such parameters as the number of students per staff, the number of international students, the ratio of male to female learners, among others. In one 2021 list of the top 20 universities in Africa, the University of Cape Town tops the rankings, followed by Stellenbosch University, also in South Africa. Cairo University in Egypt is 6th, while the University of Nairobi in Kenya is 11th, followed by Makerere University in Uganda. The University of Ghana is 17th, while the University of Ibadan in Nigeria takes the 19th spot.

6. African universities have a thriving association 

Do you want to access information on the top universities in one sitting? Fret not; there is the Association of African Universities that comprises more than 200 universities in Africa. This is the association through which universities in the continent seek to fuse their energies and coordinate their research projects. Listed alphabetically, Abia State University in Nigeria is the first on that list, while Zimbabwe Open University is the last. In case you want to find out more about the association and its activities, you can visit its website through this link.

7. You can join with qualifications from literally any country 

In a world of incompatible education systems, you can always find a way to join a university in Africa. This can be achieved through bridging courses or simply transferring credits, depending on the country’s policies in question. For instance, if you have studied under the International General Certificate of Secondary Education system and wish to join a university in Kenya, there is a range of universities that can admit you. And in South Africa, you can enter a number of universities from anywhere on the globe, provided you meet such requirements as a secondary school diploma, proficiency in English, among others. You can check this website for guidance.

8. They’re more affordable than global peers

If you analyze the fee structure of universities in Africa compared with those in other continents, you will notice that it is easier on your pocket to study in Africa. For instance, when you compare the fee structure at the University of Cape Town with that of the University of Chicago, you realize that the former is cheaper by a mile. 

9. Government support

African governments are keen to develop manpower to steer their countries ahead. That has translated into investment in a lot of arts and science programs. This study, for instance, shows how governments in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda have been incorporating science, technology, and innovation in their development planning. That means you’re likely to have incentives and smooth sailing, not to mention employment opportunities when taking some courses in Africa. 

10. Fun while learning!

What’s more fun than having a chance to visit scenic places when not studying? Being a student at an African university gives you a chance to visit various scenic locations. It is like a working holiday. Imagine the history you will get to absorb while studying in Egypt. Imagine the expedition opportunities you will have when studying in Cape Town. There are many places in Africa where you can have fun while learning.

Port Said, Egypt.