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Africa’s UNICAF receives $12m investment

UNICAF, an online platform that aims to increase access for professionals to international standard higher education in sub-Saharan Africa through scholarships and degree provision, has received $12m in funding from a consortium of state-owned and private investors.

UNICAF University $12m investmentUNICAF University in Malawi. UNICAF will use the $12m investment to support the rollout of its higher education learning centres in Zambia, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Mauritius. Photo: UNICAF.

CDC says that the UNICAF business model "works in some of the hardest countries to reach in Africa"

UNICAF will use the investment from UK government-owned development finance institution CDC Group, US-based investment firm University Ventures and Savannah Fund, a Nairobi-based early stage venture capital firm, to support the rollout of its higher education learning centres across African cities in Zambia, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Mauritius.

“Our support will make higher education – previously out of reach for the vast majority – a viable option for many”

The university campus in Malawi is near completion, while the other centres will operate within the next two years. The initiative is projected to create around 1,000 new jobs.

UNICAF’s offer of online, locally accredited degrees for working professionals at “approximately 20% of the price paid in the West” has now been taken up by over 8,000 students and UNICAF project that it will reach 60,000 students by the end of 2020.

Among the courses on offer are a number of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in subject areas including business, psychology, education, computer science and hotel management.

CDC’s investment director, David Easton, summed up the UNICAF approach as having the ability to transform higher education by “offering international quality degrees at a price and flexibility not currently seen in sub-Saharan Africa”.

“Our support will help transform the lives of gifted and often underprivileged students and will make higher education – previously out of reach for the vast majority – a viable option for many,” Easton added.

CDC says that the UNICAF business model “works in some of the hardest countries to reach in Africa”, citing activity in Zimbabwe, Somalia and Malawi, and referencing plans next year to expand into Burundi, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and Mozambique.

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