April 24, 2023

The Wealthiest Universities in Africa

The development of higher education is an important aspect for the sustainable economic future of African countries. While most African governments declare the need to increase funding and develop the higher education system to create their own highly qualified workers, the real situation with university funding on the continent remains problematic.

As part of our study, we used open data on revenue from the websites of universities, annual financial reports of universities and ministries. Using open sources and data from three global university rankings (QS, Webometrics, Shanghai Ranking) for 2023, we have compiled a ranking of the twenty richest universities in Africa. The information is presented in the format of three rating tables, in which universities are ranked by income, by number of students, and by spending per student.

A simple analysis of these data demonstrates that the majority of universities in the list of the most funded are located in two countries of the continent: Egypt and South Africa. This can be explained by the deep historical traditions of higher education, as well as by the size of the economies of these states, which, along with Nigeria, are among the top 3 African economies. However, it is worth noting the presence in this list of the largest public universities from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Ghana.

Our research shows that the most funded universities in Egypt are also the largest on the continent in terms of enrollment. Separately, it is worth noting the largest university on the continent, the University of South Africa, while other universities in South Africa do not have such a large number of students.

The most actual data on the financing of universities in Africa can be seen through the distribution of funds per student studying at the university. Here the situation is directly opposite to the mass character of education. South African universities are leading the way, diluted by the only private in the list Egyptian American University in Cairo.

Summing up, it can be noted that even the best African universities in international rankings, with the exception of South Africa, have problems with funding. For real change in the creation of a high-quality workforce, higher education on the continent needs to attract more public attention and investment.


Andrey Shelkovnikov