The new investment round is led by Goldman Sachs with participation from existing investors, including the UK government’s development finance institution CDC Group, leading higher education fund University Ventures, and EDEX, the founder of the University of Nicosia.
“Universities cannot keep pace with the rapid growth of Africa’s student population”
Fewer than 10% of potential students in sub-Saharan Africa have access to higher education, making it the most underserved region in the world – a challenge compounded by rising demand as access to primary and secondary education increases
According to research from the World Bank, Africa’s higher education institutions can still only meet a fraction of that demand, and the ratio of African secondary students who enrol in higher education is half that of the world average.
Founder and CEO of UNICAF Nicos Nicolaou said that expanding access to high-quality education and training is a “critical first step in enabling students across Africa to compete in the global economy”.
“Smartphone ubiquity and advancements in broadband mean the promise of higher education should be within reach for millions of students. Yet, universities cannot keep pace with the rapid growth of Africa’s student population,” he said.
“The commitment of Goldman Sachs cements the status of UNICAF as the leading platform for innovative university education in Africa. Our unique approach is designed specifically to meet the needs of African students, built on a state-of-the-art mobile-friendly platform and delivering international-standard university education at a fraction of the cost of traditional models.”
More than 16,000 students are currently enrolled through UNICAF in academic programs that lead to accredited undergraduate and postgraduate degrees awarded from UK, US, European and African universities.
The new funding will enable UNICAF to grow enrolment to over 100,000 students, expand the program offering and open as many as five additional African campuses in the next five years.
“UNICAF is deploying a tech-enabled solution tailored to African markets for easy and affordable access to quality higher education that is uniquely suited to address the widening university supply-demand gap and skills shortages across the continent,” added Jules Frebault, executive director at Goldman Sachs.