Niyi Aderibigbe

Actis shifts focus to helping Africa produce employable graduates

Temitope Ola, Founder of EDACY, a fast-track skills development in information technology and engineering project aimed at solving Africa’s graduates’ skills-job adequacy problem, said in an interview last year that the only way to save Higher Education in Africa is to privatize them.

“Change their legal status; run them like private companies with public interest so they can access funding from outside their government, set their own performance benchmarks, fire mediocre staff/faculty, hire best professors/staff/faculty,” Ola said in 2016, about two years after Actis, a leading investor in growth markets invested in Université Centrale Group, the leading post-secondary education group in Tunisia. In 2016, Actis expanded to Morocco through its investment in Université Mundiapolis. Mundiapolis is renowned for its international approach and focus on employability.

Actis has committed further to education in Africa by investing, subject to regulatory approvals, in EMSI, Ecole Marocaine des Sciences de l’Ingénieur the largest private institution in Morocco and the leading private engineering school. Investment agreement has also been entered into with Management College of Southern Africa, better known as “MANCOSA”, and the REGENT Business School, both South Africa’s leading private distance learning institutions. Actis is making these investments through a major pan-African higher education initiative – Honoris United Universities which it launched on Tuesday.

According to Luis Lopez, newly appointed CEO of Honoris United Universities; the network “is rooted in the vision of the founders of the member institutions”, who, aware of the vital need for their communities to develop human capital, have each worked for decades to build relevant and demanding academic models.

Honoris United Universities is the first African private higher education network bringing together the leading tertiary education institutions in North and Southern Africa for the first time. Honoris United Universities will harness the collaborative intelligence and the pioneering efforts of these institutions to educate Africa’s next generations of leaders and professionals.

Temitope Ola of EDACY had in 2016 noted that African universities are not making the right investments to reach levels of sophistication that would enable them compete on the international stage; such investments are expected to be led by Honoris.

“We understand not only what students are looking for in terms of quality and access but what their prospective employers are looking for when they graduate,” says Rick Philips, Partner at Actis.

“Businesses are looking for applicants with internationally accredited levels of education. Employers in Africa have ambitions across the continent and beyond – they need candidates with global perspectives but who understand the diversity of Africa and their local markets and can demonstrate the skills to operate successfully.” Higher Institutions in Honoris United Universities’s network will produce such candidates.

Hichem Omezzine, Co-Lead Global Education Sector, Actis, said: “We have developed extensive domain knowledge in the education sector by backing the trend for emerging market consumers to secure their own and their children’s future quality of life by investing in their education. This has given us the credibility and experience to identify and to work with world class institutions to support their growth ambitions.”

While Actis has not revealed plans to expand its new network to other parts of Africa, it is believed that Honoris United Universities will be looking to add on institutions that share its purpose of securing a successful impact for students, their families and their communities. West Africa seems to be the obvious destination.