Africa is the second largest continent on Earth in terms of both area and population. Home to over 1 billion people, education in much of Africa has lower participation than anywhere else in the world. Only around half of African children are enrolled in primary school. Higher education in Africa often suffers because of poor facilities and faculty being lured away to the West for greater economic opportunity. In consequence, finding quality schools in Africa is of utmost importance to those seeking higher education in that region of the world.
TheBestSchools.org has highlighted the best university in each country of Africa. The crown jewel of higher education in Africa is the University of Cape Town, which has an enrollment of 26,000 students, six major academic faculties, one graduate school and a Center for Higher Education Development. The university has produced five Nobel Laureates.
The opportunity for higher education is not limited to countries with major urban centers. The University of Seychelles, located in the smallest of the independent African countries, opened in 2009 with three locations throughout the archipelago. The growing enrollment is encouraging both for the university itself and the future of education on the continent as a whole.
A sovereign state in North Africa on the Mediterranean Coast, Algeria covers an area of 919,595 square miles making it the 10th largest country in the world. The current population is around 40 million. Algerian government is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes. Economically, energy exports of natural gas are the countries strength.
The history of the University of Tlemcen dates back to Decree No. 89-138 in August of 1989. With much growth and many amendments over time, the current structure of the school is based off of Executive Decree No. 98-391 which was dated December 2, 1998.
Academically, Tlemcen is organized into eight colleges which manage a collection of 31 departments. Each college also maintains its own research and development projects and laboratories. There are currently over 65 of these laboratories and group projects in total at the school. Other points of pride for Tlemcen include the University Central Library which was founded in 1975, and the establishment of 13 project agreements and national partnership projects.
The population of Angola consists of 24.3 million persons with a diversity of tribal groups and traditions creating an eclectic atmosphere. The country has been ranked as the 17th largest in Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Namibia, the Republic of the Congo, and Zambia.
Independence from Portugal was achieved in 1975, but led to many years of Civil War. The end of the war in 2002 and the vast mineral and petroleum reserves of the country have brought economic prosperity in recent times.
The Catholic University of Angola is located in the capital city of Luanda. Founded in 1997, the student body averages six to seven thousand pupils. The majority classes are taught in Portuguese, however English is available as a second language. There are four main disciplines: Social Sciences, Law, Economics, and Engineering. The Social Sciences include the Humanities and Theology. Undergraduate and Masters level courses are offered. The University also manages three Higher Institutes dedicated to Health and Sciences, the Dom Bosco Institute, and Institute of John Paul II.
Notable Alumni: Fernando José de França Dias Van-Dúnem (Angolan politician)
Formally known as Dahomey, the country of Benin is located in West Africa and bordered by Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Niger. The 44,000 square miles hold a population of approximately 10.8 million citizens. French is the official language however local dialects and indigenous languages are also common. The government is a presidential representative democratic republic.
The primary institution of higher education in the country is the National University of Benin. Founded in 1970, the school started as an Institute of Technology and was granted full University status in 1971. National University has grown to encompass six campus locations and 19 institutions. The total student enrollment is up to 40,000, including both full and part-time attendees. Diploma and Certificate programs up through Postgraduate studies are offered.
The University has maintained numerous academic and research based affiliations worldwide. Some of these connections include USAID, the Ford Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, and the Raw Materials Research and Development Council of Nigeria.
BotswanaUniversity of Botswana
A landlocked country in Southern Africa bordered by Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, Botswana became an independent country within the Commonwealth in 1966. Nearly 70 percent of the 224,000 square miles consists of the Kalahari Desert. With just over two million citizens, Botswana is one of the least populated nations in the world. Historically also one of the poorest nations in the world, the nation has recently seen strong economic growth.
The University of Botswana began as part of a larger academic system known as UBBS in 1964 which was formed from an agreement between the High Commission Territories and the Oblate of Mary Immaculate of Pius XII Catholic University. Botswana was established as its own independent entity in 1982. The academic programs are organized into eight faculties and one Graduate school. These include Social Science, Science, Engineering, Education, Health Sciences, Humanities, Business, and Medicine. There are also eight Institutes and Centers for study and research.
Notable Alumni: Patricia McFadden (Swazi author) and Bridgette Radebe (South African businesswoman)
Burkina FasoUniversité de Ouagadougou
Bordered by six other countries, Burkina Faso is a landlocked area of 105,000 square miles in West Africa with a population of just over 17.3 million citizens. Historically known as the Republic of Upper Volta, the country was inhabited by various tribes until French colonization in the 19 century. Though Burkina Faso gained independence from France in 1960, French continues to be the official language of government and trade.
Recently there have been many political changes and civil unrest including a military coup in September of 2015.
Founded in 1974, the University of Ouagadougou has been gradually increasing in size and reputation. In 1995 two additional campuses were opened, one for professional education known as the Polytechnique of Bobo and one for teacher training. Overall the University now consists of seven Training and Research Units and one Institute. A modular education system based on academic credits is in place which combines both fundamental and professional training. There are approximately 40,000 students enrolled.
Notable Alumni: Paul Kaba Thieba (Prime Minister of Burkina Faso); Luc Adolphe Tiao (former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso); and Pierre Habumuremyi (former Prime Minister of Rwanda)
Considered part of Central Africa, the history of Burundi is one of struggle and war. Bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Congo, Burundi has been home to the Twa, Hutu, and Tutsi tribes for the past 500 years. The civil wars and genocides of the 1970’s and the 1990’s are well known and were devastating to the people, leaving the country one of the poorest in the world. Currently, the 10,000 square miles holds a population of approximately 11,000 citizens.
In spite of significant disruptions in operation due to ethnic tensions, the University of Burundi has managed to continue the education of its students. Located in the city of Bujumbura, the school was originally established in the 1960’s by the Roman Catholic Church. The first three institutions which comprised the school were the Institute of Agriculture of Ruanda-Urundi, the University Institute of Usumbura, and the Faculty of Science of Usumbura. Through the 1980’s, four additional institutions were created and integrated into the University at large in 1989. Today there are a total of eight schools and five institutes and an enrollment of approximately 13,000 students.
The 183,000 square miles of Cameroon are also known as ‘Africa in miniature’ for the geological and cultural diversity. Located in Central Africa, the country is home to over 200 various linguistic groups, with French and English being the official languages of government and trade, and more than 22.5 million citizens. The diversity of culture has led to many native styles of music, such as makossa and bikutsi, for which the country is well known. Cameroon also takes pride in its successful national football team. Paul Biya has been the authoritarian president since 1982.
The University of Dschang can trace its beginning to 1993 and the merger of three agricultural training schools. In 1977 there was a Presidential Decree to create the University Center at Dschang and in 1978 ENSA in Yaounde and the Institute for Agricultural Technologies in Dschang were incorporated into the Center. Finally, in 1993 the Center was given the University status which it maintains today. A range of 10,000 to 15,000 students are in attendance each year.
A small island country of just over 1,500 square miles, Cape Verde is located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Western Africa. The archipelago of 10 volcanic islands was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. The current population estimates 512,000 citizens of mixed European and African heritage. The government has been a relatively stable representative democracy since the 1990’s. There has also been a growing economy focused on tourism and foreign investment.
The Island University of Cape Verde was formed from the merger of two colleges: the Institute Superior of Education and the Institute Superior of Engineering and Sciences of the Sea. In 2007 the Institute National of Research and Development Agriculture was also incorporated into the University. Today there are a total of five campus locations with three schools and three faculties. The total programs offered include 20 Associate’s degrees, 44 Bachelor’s degrees, 24 Master’s degrees, and four Doctoral degrees. Just over 5,000 students are in attendance.
Central African RepublicUniversité de Bangui (The University of Bangui)
A landlocked country in Central Africa, this area of 240,000 square miles holds a population of approximately 4.7 million citizens. The country’s current borders were set by France during the 19th century, though the land had been inhabited for millennia prior. In 1960 the Central African Republic gained independence from France. Despite significant mineral deposits and other natural resources, recent political and religious unrest has left the country impoverished.
The main public institution for higher education in the Central African Republic is the University of Bangui. Founded in 1969 by Ordinance No. 69063, the school is comprised of four faculties, 11 Institutes and Centers of research, and six laboratories. Approximately 6,500 students are enrolled. Academic and research partnerships are maintained with 10 other universities in addition to other agencies such as the Embassy of France and the International Institute for Inter Religious Diplomacy. In recent years there has been a massive increase in the number of students studying math and science.
Notable Alumni: Gaston Mandata N’Guérékata and Faustin-Archange Touadéra (former Vice-Chancellors of the University of Bangui)
The fifth largest country in Africa, Chad encompasses an area of over 495,000 square miles. The population is estimated at 13.6 million citizens who represent over 200 ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. Chad was conquered by France in the 1920’s but was able to gain independence again in the 1960’s under the leadership of Francois Tombalbaye. Since then, political turmoil and poverty have pervaded the country, though the export of crude oil has provided some economic relief.
The University of N’Djaména was founded in 1971 as the University of Chad. It later renamed itself in 1994. The school has modeled its academic programs after the French Universities. As such the school has organized its academic courses into five major faculties. The University has also maintained full membership in the International Association University group, as well as partnerships with the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie and the Association of African Universities. Approximately 6,000 students are currently in attendance.
Congo, Democratic Republic ofUniversité de Kinshasa (The University of Kinshasa)
Previously known as Zaire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in Central Africa. The second largest country in Africa by area, the Congo is comprised of over 905,000 square miles and holds a population of over 81.6 million citizens. Along with an abundance of raw minerals, the country also sustains the second largest rain forest in the world.
Established in 1954 by Belgium, the school was originally known as the University of Lovanium and was affiliated with the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. In 1971 three private universities merged to form the National University of Zaire, but just 10 years later in 1981 the University was split again into three institutions: the University of Kinshasa, Kisangani University, and the University of Lubumbashi.
Today there are 10 academic divisions and over 26,000 students in attendance. The University is known for the construction of the first nuclear reactor in Africa in 1958. Currently the school is hosting a joint project sponsored by Cisco and the United National Development Program known as Cisco Academy.
The history and cultural influence of Egypt cannot be overstated with evidence of civilization dating back to the 10th millennium BC. Spanning both the Northeast corner of Africa and the Southwest corner of Asia, Egypt is one of the few transcontinental countries. The 390,000 square miles is comprised mostly of the Nile Valley and the Sahara Desert. The most populous country in North Africa, the majority of Egypt’s 90 million citizens reside near the Nile River.
Founded in 1908, Cairo University is the second oldest institution for higher education in Egypt. Through history the school has also been known as the Egyptian University and the King Fuad I University. Academically, Cairo was modeled after European civil universities, in contrast to the religious schools in the country. One landmark for Cairo University was the establishment of one of the first medical schools in Africa. There are an additional 22 academic faculties providing services to over 155,000 enrolled students. Among the alumni affiliated with Cairo University are three recipients of the Nobel Prize.
Notable Alumni: Saddam Hussein (former president of Iraq); Omar Sharif (actor); and Boutros Boutros-Ghali (the sixth Secretary-General of the UN)
EthiopiaAddis Ababa University
The 420,000 square miles which comprise Ethiopia are located in the Horn of Africa. This multilingual country is home to more than 100 million citizens and approximately 80 ethnolinguistic groups making it the most populated landlocked country in the world. Widely considered to be the area of the first human origins, Ethiopia traces its history back to the second millennium BC. In addition to being the place of origin for the coffee bean, Ethiopia is also known for the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa and one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world.
Addis Ababa University was founded in 1950. The 14 campuses offer a total of 70 undergraduate programs, 221 Master’s programs, and 72 Doctoral tracks. There are 10 colleges and four institutes dedicated to teaching and research which are further divided into 55 departments, 12 centers, 12 schools, and two teaching hospitals. An additional six institutes are managed by the University solely for research purposes.
Notable Alumni: Hailemariam Desalegn (Prime Minister of Ethiopia); Isaias Afwerki (President of Eritrea); and Berhane Asfaw (paleontologist who co-discovered the apparent origin of the Homo genus)
Located on the west coast of Central Africa, Gabon encompasses an area of 100,000 square miles on the equator. The country holds an estimated 1.5 million citizen population. Gabon achieved independence from France in 1960 and has since introduced a multi-party democratic constitution. Rich petroleum resources and foreign private investments have enhanced the Gabon economy to being one of the most prosperous in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Universite Omar Bongo is located in Libreville. It was originally founded as the National University of Gabon but later renamed in 1978 after one of the nation’s presidents. The educational format in Gabon is modeled around the French system. Thus, the Ministry of Education is responsible for overseeing both public and private education. The school runs numerous degree programs through its law school, faculty of arts and humanities, and multiple sciences departments. Omar Bongo is accredited by the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche Scientifique et du Développement Technologique.
GhanaUniversity of Ghana
With evidence of civilization stretching millennia into the past, the first permanent state of Ghana dates back to the 11th century. Political turmoil erupted in the 15th century as European powers battled over trading rights. In the late 19th century, the British finally gained ultimate control of the coast. Spanning an area of 92,000 square miles, Ghana is home to 27 million citizens. The country’s economy is known for being the world’s largest producer of diamonds and cocoa, and one of the largest producers of gold.
Founded in 1948, the University of Ghana is recognized as the oldest and largest of the six public universities in the country. The academic units are organized into four colleges each with several schools and departments. There are six institutes and 12 centers of research. A total of 38,000 students are enrolled with international students from 70 countries. The University maintains 24 institutional affiliations in addition to memberships in networks such as the International Association of Universities, the League of World Universities, and the Association of African Universities.
Notable Alumni: George Kingsley Acquah (former Chief Justice of Ghana; John Atta Mills (former President of Ghana); and Komla Dumor (television news presenter for the BBC World)
Located in West Africa, Guinea is a relatively small country of 94,900 square miles. Home to a population of 10.5 million citizens, there are 24 ethnic groups and 24 indigenous languages recognized with Islam being the predominant religion. French is the official language of government, trade, and education. With rich deposits of diamonds and gold the economy is largely dependent on mineral production and agriculture. Guinea is recognized as the second largest producer of Bauxite in the world.
The Université Kofi Annan de Guinée, located in the city of Conakry, was founded in 1999 by Dr. Ousmane Kaba. In the beginning studies were only offered in Law, Economic Science, and Management. With the growth of the University, the Faculty of Medical Sciences and Allied Health and the Ecole Polytechnique of Engineers were opened in 2006. Today there are a total of five faculties and two Institutes. The school is recognized as the oldest and most multidisciplinary of the private institutes for higher education in the country. Over 9,000 students were in attendance in 2014.
The 124,000 square miles of the Ivory Coast are located in West Africa. In 1843 the land became a protectorate of France and in 1893 became a full colony. Though independence from France was achieved in 1960, French continues to be the official language of government and trade with an additional 78 local tongues also recognized. There are 23.9 million citizens in the country. Economics are largely based on agriculture and the production of coffee and cocoa.
Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny was formed in 1996. It is a non-profit public higher education school in the small city of Yamoussoukro. Roughly 3,000 to 4,000 students pursue associates through masters level degrees. The school has a 10% to 20% admissions rate. The school is actively trying to integrate itself into the larger international arena by attracting foreign students and granting study abroad opportunities.
The 224,000 square miles of Kenya overlies the East African Rift along the line of the equator. Evidence of human civilization in the country can be traced back to the Lower Paleolithic period. European and Arab influence first appeared in the Early Modern period. In 1895 Kenya was made a Protectorate of the British Empire and was able to gain independence in 1963. Today Kenya comprises 47 semi-autonomous counties managed by elected governors.
The University of Nairobi officially emerged in 1970 from the dissolution of the University of East Africa into three independent institutions, the Makerere University, the University of Dar es Salaam, and the current University of Nairobi. There are 300 academic programs available to more than 61,000 students. The programs are organized into a total of six major colleges with nearly 40 faculties, schools, Institutes, and Centers, and over 75 departments. The University maintains international connections with 250 other institutions and is affiliated with one Nobel Peace Laureate.
Notable Alumni: Apolo Nsibambi (Prime Minister of Uganda); Jacob Kaimenyi (Education Minister); and Avril (singer and actress)
Lesotho National University of Lesotho
Completely landlocked and surrounded by South Africa, the country of Lesotho consists of 11,500 square miles and is home to just over two million citizens. Also historically known as Basutoland, the present day Lesotho emerged in 1822 under the rule of King Moshoeshoe the first. After much political conflict in the country between the British and the Dutch, Lesotho declared its independence in 1966. Though much civil turmoil continues, the country has maintained a constitutional monarchy.
The predecessor to the National University of Lesotho was the Catholic University College founded in 1938. In 1964 the College was replaced by the independent and non-denominational University of Basutoland which became the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in 1966. The University reached its current state in 1975. It is comprised of seven faculties and three major institutes. The school maintains four memberships: the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Association of African Universities, the International Association of Universities, and the Southern African Regional Universities Association.
Notable Alumni: Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso (Queen Consort of Lesotho); Tito Mboweni (Governor of the South African Reserve Bank); and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Deputy President of South Africa)
LiberiaUniversity of Liberia
Located on the West African coast, Liberia is known as the oldest republic on the continent and the only country in Africa to have gained independence without revolt. The country’s Declaration of Independence was issued in 1847 and modeled the Liberia government after that of the United States of America. Comprising 43,000 square miles, Liberia is home to 4.5 million citizens. Though English is the official language of government and trade, there are 20 other recognized indigenous languages.
Originally established as Liberia College in 1862, the school was granted University status in 1951. The University of Liberia is recognized as the oldest publicly funded degree granting institute for higher learning in the country and also manages the only School of Law in the area. Located in the city of Monrovia, the University comprises three campuses, six colleges, three professional schools, three graduate programs, and five institutes for study with the majority of instruction being provided in English. There are approximately 18,000 students in attendance.
Notable Alumni: Joseph Boakai (Liberia’s Vice President); Arthur Barclay (former president); and Joseph James Cheeseman (former president)
Comprising 700,000 square miles of land, Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa. Located in the northern portion of the continent, the land was ruled by Persians, Egyptians, and Greeks before becoming part of the Roman Empire. After the decline of the Empire, Libya became a much disputed territory and continues to have political and social unrest. Most recently, both the Council of Deputies and the General National Congress claim to be the legitimate government of the land. The land is home to approximately six million citizens.
Founded in 1955, the University of Benghazi was initially known as the University of Libya. In 1973 the University of Libya was split into two independent institutions and became known as the Grayounis University.
After the country’s revolutionary war in 2011, the institution took its current form as the University of Benghazi. Located in the second largest city in the country, Benghazi, the University is the most respected public institution for higher education in Libya. The school encompasses 23 faculties and 230 departments and centers and is home to approximately 88,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Off the coast of Southeast Africa in the Indian Ocean is the island country of Madagascar. Comprising over 226,000 square miles and a population of 22.4 million citizens, the island is the fourth largest in the world. It is known for its unique wildlife, 90 percent of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Evidence of human civilization on the island can be traced back to between 350 BC and 550 AD. Most of the native tribes were united in the 19th century under a monarchy which collapsed in 1897. After a period of French rule, the island gained independence in 1960 and has maintained a constitutional democracy since 1992.
Located in the capital city, the University of Antananarivo was founded in December of 1955. It grew out of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Antananarivo. The University is comprised of six campus locations, seven faculties and schools, five Institutes, and one laboratory. There are over 30 international agreements maintained with other universities and institutes around the world. It also runs five more branches in Antsiranan, Fianarantsoa, Toamasina, Toliara, and Mahajanga.
Notable Alumni: Hery Rajaonarimampianina (President of Madagascar); Roger Kolo (Prime Minister); and Eusèbe Jaojoby (singer)
MalawiUniversity of Malawi
Formally known as Nyasaland, the 45,000 square miles of Malawi have been nicknamed the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’. The landlocked country in Southeast Africa is one of the smallest on the continent with Lake Malawi comprising a third of the land and one of the least developed in the world. Settled by migrating African tribes in the 10th century, the land was colonized by the British in 1891. However, the 16.7 million citizens continue to live in very rural settings and rely heavily on agriculture.
The University of Malawi was established in 1965 and is comprised of five constituent colleges: The College of Medicine, the Kamuzu College of Nursing, the Malawi Polytechni, the Bunda College which offers all level of degrees in Agriculture, Environmental Sciences, and Development Studies, and the Chancellor College which is the largest of the schools with five faculties. There are approximately 7,000 students enrolled throughout the five colleges. Additional facilities managed by the University include eight academic and research oriented centers.
Notable Alumni: Steve Dick Tennyson Matenje (UN Permanent Representative); Cassim Chilumpha (Vice President of Malawi); and Charles Chuka (Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi)
Mali is the eight largest country in the continent of Africa. It holds a population of 14.5 million. Most of the population consists of non-denominational Muslims. The nations struggles economically, with over half of its people living below the poverty line. It is named after the ancient Mali Empire which once ruled this region. In more recent times the nation came under French colonial rule, but Mali became independent in 1960. Much of the nation is covered by the hot Sahara desert. The nation has become progressively more pro-western over time.
The University of Mali is a young school that has undergone phenomenal growth. The institution was brought into existence through Law 93-060 in September of 1993. Three years later the school opened. It has since grown to include well over 60,000 students and hundreds of instructors. The school has developed substantial international ties, especially French speaking ones.
MauritaniaUniversité de Nouakchott
Located in the western area of North Africa, Mauritania comprises 397,000 square miles of land bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Recognized as the 11th largest country in Africa, 90 percent of Mauritania encompasses the Sahara desert. Home to 397,000 people, the country is the last strong hold of government sanctioned modern-day slavery.
The Université de Nouakchott was established in 1981. It has over 8,000 students and is located in Mauritania’s capital city of Nouakchott. The capital is one of the largest cities in the Sahara and by far the largest in the nation. Students here study amidst the economic capital of the region. The school has roughly 8,000 to 9,000 students and offers numerous certificates, diplomas and degrees. It is accredited by the nation’s Ministry of Secondary and Higher Education. The two major languages of instruction are French and Arabic.
MauritiusUniversity of Mauritius
Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean 1,200 miles off the southeast coast of Africa. The land includes the island of Rodrigues and some disputed outer islands, mainly Agalega and St. Brandon. The land was largely uninhabited until 1638 and the settlement of the first Dutch colony. Today Mauritius consists of 787 square miles and is home to 1.2 million citizens. The population is governed by a parliamentary system modelled after Westminster. The island is known as the only home of the now extinct dodo bird.
The University of Mauritius is the oldest and largest institution for higher education in the country. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh inaugurated the University in March of 1972. At its opening the school consisted of three faculties and has since expanded to five faculties and three centers of study and research. Over 15,000 students are in attendance. Instruction is provided in both English and French.
MoroccoAl Akhawayn University
Characterized by mountainous terrain and large portions of desert, Morocco consists of 172,000 square miles in North Africa. The country is one of only three with a coastline bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Historically the land has maintained its independence and status as a regional power, unlike many other African countries. The 33.8 million citizens are governed by a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. Arabic and Berber are the official languages of government and trade, however, Moroccan Arabic and French are also widely used.
Also known as the ‘Two Brothers’ University’ for the founders King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and King Hassan II of Morocco, Al Akhawayn University was established by Royal Decree in 1993. Instruction of students began in 1995. The school is managed as an independent, public, non-for-profit institution of higher education located in the Middle Atlas Mountains.
There are just over 2,000 students currently in attendance. Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered with instruction provided in English. The core of the curriculum is modelled after the American Liberal Arts system. Additional facilities managed by the school include seven Centers and Institutes of learning and research.
Located in Southeast Africa, Mozambique was for centuries under the rule of the Portuguese. In 1975 Mozambique gained independence but descended into civil war between 1977 and 1992. Finally in 1994 the first multiparty elections were held and the country has maintained a relatively stable presidential republic since then. The 24 million citizens live within 309,000 square miles. Though Mozambique is the only official language, it is spoken as a second language by most. The common native tongues include Sena, Makhuwa, and Swahili.
First known as the Mozambique General University Studies, the University was renamed in 1976 after the country declared independence in honor of the leader Eduardo Mondlane, founder and President of the Mozambican Liberation Front. It is the oldest and largest institution for higher education in the country with more than 30,000 students in attendance, under 100 students representing other countries. There are no distance or part-time enrollment options, all students are full-time.
Notable Alumni: Mari Alkatiri (first Prime Minister of Timor Leste) and Mia Couto (Mozambican author, poet, journalist, and biologist)
NamibiaUniversity of Namibia
A southern African country, Namibia was historically inhabited by the San, Damara, and Namaqua people. The 318,000 square miles which comprise the country came under the rule of the German Empire in the 19th century and then South Africa. In 1990 Namibia was able to gain liberation from South Africa after the Namibia War of Independence. Currently the 2.1 million citizens are governed by a relatively stable multi-party parliamentary democracy.
Founded in 1992 by an Act of Parliament, the University of Namibia is comprised of 12 nationwide campus locations, nine regional centers, eight major academic faculties, and three schools. There are 36 Bachelor’s degrees, 19 Master’s degrees, and 12 Doctoral degrees offered to over 19,000 students. The University of Namibia is the only institute of higher education to offer a doctorate in the study of the Khoekhoe language.
Distance learning opportunities at the school are managed by the Center for External Studies which operates through three departments: the Department of Materials Development and Instructional Design, the Department of Student Support and the Department of Continuing Education.
Notable Alumni: Monica Geingos (First Lady of the Republic of Namibia) and Sacky Shanghala (Attorney General of Namibia)
Encompassing over 489,000 square miles, Niger is the largest landlocked country in western Africa. More than 80 percent of the country is comprised of the Sahara Desert. Niger has a long history of political and social unrest. The most recent military coup in 2010 resulted in the country becoming a democratic, multi-party state. The population of approximately 17.1 million citizens continues to live in rural settings with high levels of poverty, lack of infrastructure, and low levels of education.
Initially known as the University of Niamey, the school was founded in 1974. The University changed its name in 1994 to the Abdou Moumouni University in honor of former Professor Abdou Moumouni Dioffo. Located on the bank of the Niger River, the University is comprised of seven schools and colleges and maintains two satellite campus locations. The school maintains a local affiliation with the Lamorde University Hospital.
Recently, in 2006, the University was forced to close temporarily due to student protests and rioting.
NigeriaUniversity of Lagos
Encompassing over 356,000 square miles and home to more than 182 million citizens, Nigeria is recognized as the most populous country in Africa. Now comprised of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, the current state of Nigeria has existed since the 19th century and the beginning of British rule. The country declared independence from Britain in 1960 and descended into civil war. A relatively stable federal constitutional republic has been in place since 1999.
University of Lagos was founded in 1962 and began with only three faculties. Today the school operates 12 faculties and eight Centers and Institutes for research, in addition to a School of Postgraduate Studies, a Distance Learning Institute, and a Medical Campus. This federal government research university has more than 57,000 students currently in attendance. Lagos has participated in international partnerships and agreements with 19 foreign institutions and universities and has an additional 16 agreements in process.
Notable Alumni: Yemi Osinbajo (Vice President of Nigeria); Dele Olojede (former foreign editor for Newsday and first African-born winner of the Pulitzer Prize); and Dare Art Alade (Nigerian multi-platinum selling and award-winning musician and singer-songwriter)
RwandaUniversity of Rwanda
Comprising just over 10,000 square miles, Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Located slightly south of the equator, the subtropical country has a growing tourism business, as it is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely. The native people of Rwanda can trace a common lineage back to the Banyarwanda. However, the current tribes of Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa have gone through much political and social tension including the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. Today there is a presidential government maintained with French and English as the official languages.
The University of Rwanda was recently formed in 2013 from the merger of seven other institutes for higher education including the National University of Rwanda, the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, the Kigali Institute of Education, the Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, the School of Finance and Banking, the Higher Institute of Umutara Polytechnic, and the Kigali Health Institute. The institutions were combined in the effort to improve the quality of education in the country. The University of Rwanda maintains 14 campus locations and six subject-based colleges. Over 30,000 students are currently in attendance.
Notable Alumni: Agnes Binagwaho (Rwanda’s health minister)
SenegalUniversité Cheikh Anta Diop
Inhabited by various tribes over the millennia, a more organized kingdom in Senegal started to emerge in the seventh century. During the 15th century European colonization began which switched to French rule in the 19th century. Finally in 1960 Senegal declared independence and has maintained a semi-presidential republic with French as the country’s official language. Today the West African country is comprised of 76,000 square miles and is home to approximately 13 million citizens.
The most prestigious institution for higher education in the country of Senegal is named after a native physicist, historian, and anthropologist, Cheikh Anta Diop. Modelled after the French education system, the current school grew out of the merger of several French institutions founded before the country’s independence. Officially established in 1957, there are now more than 60,000 students in attendance. Most instruction continues to be provided in French. Despite the economic challenges associated with its recent and rapid exspansion, the school remains one of the most respected in Africa.
Notable Alumni: Abdoulaye Wade (former President of Senegal); Ousmane Camara (former Senegalese Chief Justice); and Yayi Boni (President of Benin)
SeychellesUniversity of Seychelles
Consisting of 115 islands, the country of Seychelles is an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar. With 93,000 citizens Seychelles is noted to have the smallest population of the independent African nations. The area has been largely uninhabited with the earliest recorded sighting of the islands in 1502 and the first landing in 1609. French and English powers disputed the territory until 1976 when Seychelles officially became an independent republic within the Commonwealth. Today the presidential republic is divided into 26 administrative regions.
A relatively new school, the University of Seychelles was founded in 2009. With three campus locations in Ma Joie, Anse Royale, and Mont Fleuri, the school has seen rapid growth and interest from students. Informally known as ‘UniSey’, there are over 1,300 students enrolled within two major faculties: Business and Sustainable Development, and Arts and Social Development. The faculties oversee seven departments. The University has also established regional and national partnerships with 10 other institutions.
Sierra LeoneNjala University
A West African country, Sierra Leone consists of more than 27,000 square miles divided into four major geographical regions which are further allocated into 14 districts. The land is home to six million citizens who represent approximately 16 ethnic groups each with unique languages and traditions. The two largest groups are the Temne and the Mende people. English and Krio are the most common languages. The country declared independence in 1961 and quickly fell into political tension and government corruption. Today a unitary presidential constitutional republic is maintained. The country’s economy is largely based on mining for diamonds.
Now an independent, public institution for higher education, Njala University was originally founded in 1964 as a constituent college to the University of Sierra Leone. In 2005 the institution was separated by the University Act into independent institutions. Currently, Njala University manages two campus locations, eight academic schools, and a University Hospital. The school also hosts other facilities such as the National Agriculture Training Center and the Njala Agriculture Research Center.
Notable Alumni: Joe Robert Pemagbi (current United Nations ambassador) and Dr. Julius Spencer (movie actor and director, poet and playwright, journalist, and former Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the war-years)
The history of Somalia is filled with political tension and social instability. Over the centuries the land has been constantly fought over and ruled by various powers including the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, and the nation of Italy. Due to constant political tension and the absence of any central government, Somalia has been classified a ‘failed state’. Located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia is known for having the longest coast line on the African mainland. The country is home to 10.8 million people with Somali and Arabic as the official languages.
In 1954 the idea of higher education in Somalia was proposed and in 1970 the Somali National University was opened with 15 operational faculties. Due to political strife and civil war, much of the school was destroyed and the campus was forced to close in 1990. In 1993 the idea of a non-government school was proposed and in 1977 Mogadishu University, also known as the Jaamacada Muqdisho School, was opened. The school currently operates two campus locations, four Centers and Institutes, and nine faculties.
South AfricaUniversity of Cape Town
Located at the southern-most tip of the African continent, South Africa comprises an area of over 471,000 square miles. With a population of approximately 53 million citizens, South Africa is recognized as the 24th largest country in the world by population and 25th largest by land area. The country holds a large multi-ethnic culture with 11 official state languages. Governed by a parliamentary republic with nine provinces, all the linguistic groups have had political representation since 1994.
In 1829 the South African College was founded as a high school for boys. As the school grew, it achieved University status between 1880 and 1900, and was open to both men and women in 1887. In 1918 the school was officially known as the University of Cape Town. Today there are six major academic faculties, one graduate school and a Center for Higher Education Development. Instruction is provided in English. More than 26,000 students are enrolled with over 100 countries represented in the faculty members and student body. The school is also affiliated with five Nobel Laureates.
Notable Alumni: Max Theiler (Nobel Prize for developing a vaccine against yellow fever) and J. M. Coetzee (Nobel Prize in Literature)
The land now known as South Sudan has an extensive history of political tension. Historically, the area has been governed by the Muhammad Ali Dynasty and the Anglo-Egyptian condominium. The Sudanese gained independence in 1956 and in 2011 South Sudan gained independence from Sudan. Internal conflict has continued since then. The 239,000 square miles are divided into 28 states and are home to 12.3 million people. The official language is English; however, over 60 other tongues are also recognized.
John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology, is one of seven public institutions for higher education in the country of South Sudan. Located in the town of Bor on the White Nile River, the school was established in 2006 and granted University status in 2010. The academic programs are organized into five colleges and one institute. There are approximately 1,000 students in attendance. The University has entered into international collaboration with eight other institutions.
Notable Alumni: Hassan al-Turabi (leader of the National Islamic Front); Usamah Mohamad (citizen journalist and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience); and Ali Osman Taha (former vice president of Sudan)
In 2011 when South Sudan declared independence as a separate nation, Sudan went from the largest country in Africa to the third largest with over 728,000 square miles of land. Located in the north-east portion of the continent, Sudan is divided into an eastern and western half divide by the Nile River. The country is home to over 40 million people governed under a federal presidential representative democratic republic with a legal system based on Islamic law.
The University of Khartoum traces its history back to 1902 and the founding of the Gordon Memorial College. The school steadily expanded until 1956 when it obtained university status and united all its faculties under one administration in a unique international agreement with the University of London. Currently the school operates five campus locations, 23 faculties, 12 Institutes, and 11 Centers of both academics and research. There are over 16,000 students in attendance.
SwazilandUniversity of Swaziland
Just over 6,700 square miles in size, Swaziland is one of the smallest countries on mainland Africa. Despite its small size, the country has a nice diversity of landscapes and climates. Its present boundaries were established in 1881. The land became a British protectorate in 1903 but declared independence in 1968. Today the population of 1.1 million citizens is governed by an absolute monarchy with the most recent constitution adopted in 2005. The official language of government and trade is Swazi.
The University of Swaziland was established in 1982 by an act of parliament after the disbandment of the University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. The current University of Swaziland maintains three campus locations with seven faculties and two academic institutes. There are 28 Bachelor’s degrees, 10 Master’s degrees, and one PhD program offered, in addition to Diploma and Certificate programs. Research facilities include four centers and institutes for investigation. More than 5,000 students are currently in attendance.
Notable Alumni: Patrice Motsepe (South African mining magnate); Elias Masilela (CEO of South Africa Public Investment Corporation); and Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu (member of parliament and member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress)
TanzaniaUniversity of Dar es Salaam
The 365,000 square miles of Tanzania are located in Eastern Africa. The land contains Africa’s highest mountain and three of Africa’s great lakes. There are 51.8 million people governed under a presidential constitutional republic. Swahili and English are the official languages of government and trade. High levels of poverty throughout the land have led to an economy heavily dependent on agriculture.
The University of Dar es Salaam is a public institution for higher education and was founded in 1961 as an affiliate college to the University of London. In 1963 the University of Dar es Salaam became an affiliate of the University of East Africa after Tanzania declared independence from Britain. In 1970 the University of East Africa split into three independent institutions, thus the University of Dar es Salaam became its own entity. The school currently operates five campus locations and 10 faculties. There are more than 19,000 students in attendance.
Notable Alumni: Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa (Prime Minister of Tanzania); Donald Kaberuka (President of the African Development Bank); and Willy Mutunga (Chief Justice of Kenya)
One of the smaller countries in Africa, the nation of Togo is comprised of just over 22,000 square miles. Being a tropical area with an abundance of fertile ground, there is a strong reliance on agriculture to stimulate the economy and sustain the citizens. There are approximately 7.5 million people in Togo governed under a presidential republic. The official language of the nation is French with numerous native languages also recognized.
Founded in 1965 as the University of Benin, the University of Lome switched to its current name in 1970 and has become the largest center for higher education in the country. The academic programs are organized into five faculties, six schools, and three institutes. The majority of instruction is provided in French. In May 2011 a new academic system was implemented which triggered unrest from many students. The University was forced to close temporarily due to rioting. An agreement between the University and the students was reached in June 2011.
Notable Alumni: Gilbert Houngbo (former Prime Minister of Togo) and Yawo Adomayakpor (Togo’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo)
TunisiaUniversité de Tunis El Manar
One of the northern most countries in Africa, the nation of Tunisia is comprised of more than 64,000 square miles. Since 146 BC the land was ruled by the Roman Empire until the first century when the Arabs conquered Tunisia. Between 1534 and 1574 the Ottoman Empire gained control of the land until Tunisia declared its independence in 1957. Now a unitary semi-presidential republic, Tunisia claims to be the only democracy in the Arab world.
The University of Tunis El Manar is a public institution created in 1987. The academic programs are organized into 15 institutions, four faculties, nine institutes, two schools, and 56 departments. There are 54 regular and applied Bachelors programs, 64 research and professional masters programs, and 25 Doctoral programs available. Additionally the school operates 61 research labs and 60 research units. More than 38,000 students are enrolled with 37 nationalities represented by international students.
Notable Alumni: Samar Samir Mezghanni (Tunisian children’s author) and Mehdi Jomaa (former acting Prime Minister of Tunisia)
Uganda is a landlocked country comprised of 93,000 square miles located in East Africa near the African Great Lakes region. Inhabited by Bantu-speaking people groups for centuries, the land was established as a British protectorate in 1894. This lasted until 1962 when Uganda declared its independence. The land is home to approximately 37.8 million people governed under a dominant party semi-presidential republic. Swahili and English are the two official languages of the country with several other vernacular tongues also recognized.
Founded in 1922, Makerere University was originally a technical school which was integrated into the University of East Africa in 1963. In 1970 the University of East Africa broke into three independent institutions, one of which became the Makerere University. The academic programs are organized within nine colleges and one school across three campus locations. There are 145 undergraduate programs and 139 postgraduate programs available. Makerere University maintains cooperative agreements with seven affiliated institutions. More than 40,000 students are currently in attendance.
Notable Alumni: Mwai Kibaki (third president of Kenya); Henry Kyemba (minister of health under Idi Amin); and Martin Ssempa (controversial Ugandan pastor and AIDS activist)
ZambiaThe University of Zambia
The 290,000 square miles of Zambia are landlocked in Southern Africa. Historically home to the Khoisan tribe, European explorers entered the country during the 18th century. Near the end of the 19th century Zambia became a British protectorate. Finally in 1964 the country declared its independence. Currently the 16.2 million citizens are governed under a unitary presidential republic with English as the official language of government and trade. The majority of citizens are rural substance farmers who live at or below poverty levels.
A public university established in 1965, the University of Zambia is the oldest institution for higher education in the country. The various academic programs are organized into nine major faculties and one graduate school across two campus locations. More than 157 undergraduate and graduate degree tracks are available for students to select from. The school also manages three major research Institutes. Internationally, the University of Zambia maintains over 100 collaborative agreements with various institutions.
Notable Alumni: Edgar Lungu (Zambian President); Edward Makuka Nkoloso (founder of the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy); and Ireen Mambilima (Chief Justice of Zambia)
ZimbabweThe University of Zimbabwe
During the 1800’s the British South Africa Company established the current borders of Zimbabwe and called the land ‘Rhodesia’. In 1979 the name of the country was changed to Zimbabwe Rhodesia after Muzorewa became the new prime minister. Today the landlocked country in southern Africa, comprised of over 150,000 square miles, is home to approximately 13 million people governed under a dominant party presidential republic. There are 16 official languages for the country.
Recognized as the oldest institute for higher education in the country, the University of Zimbabwe was founded in 1952 in close affiliation to the University of London. At that time the school was known as the University College of Rhodesia. Today the academic programs are organized into 10 faculties with instruction provided in English. The faculties are comprised of more than 60 departments, seven centers, and six institutes for study and research. There are more than 11,000 students in attendance with nearly 200 international students.
Notable Alumni: Maud Chifamba (named by Forbes magazine as one of The 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa 2012) and Gideon Gona (Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe)