The deep hunger for education in Africa has seen the rise and growth of so many higher institutions of learning. With this comes competition as each institution tries to be the best in the field. Competition is good as it leads to quality, diverse education structures with the right infrastructure and enough teaching staff. These form the basis upon which top universities in Africa are ranked upon.
Universities in African countries are doing remarkably well in the universal education rating, with a good number appearing in the top 200 universities in the world. There are both private and public universities all over Africa, with governments trying their best to ensure quality services in the public institutions. In the private sector, the competition is quite stiff and owners have no choice but to do all it takes to outdo each other. Fortunately, all these attempts result to the ultimate well-being of the student. International universities have not been left behind and have started campuses in several African countries where they teach the same content taught in the mother university overseas. We have prepared you a detailed list of top universities in Africa ranking, not in any particular order but all universities mentioned at least feature in the top 20 universities in Africa. You don’t have to speculate anymore, here is all you ever needed to know.
Universities in South Africa
South Africa, the most industrialized country in Africa and leads the pack with the best universities in Africa. With most of them located in Cape Town or in its neighborhood, this country has the best equipped, best staffed and best structured universities. Although most Universities in South Africa Cape Town appear in the top 20 universities in Africa, we shall only discuss the five best in this article.
1. University of Cape Town
This university took the name of Cape Town city, University of Cape Town is found right at the foot of the famous Table Mountain. Not only does it offer quality education, but it also offers its scholars the luxury of the best city view and of the Devil’s Park. It’s like its reward for those who get to qualify to do their higher learning.
Founded in 1829, this is the oldest university in South Africa and the second to be founded after University of Sierra Leone which was founded in 1827, two years earlier. Isn’t it commendable that University of Cape Town has survived the storms and lived to be the very best?
Taking position 191 in the world ranking of Universities, its motto is ‘Good hope’. It has grown to have many faculties for the different departments which include Commerce, humanities, Science, Law and Built environment. School of business is set apart from Commerce, unlike other universities.
The main campus contains many teaching faculties, the main library and some halls of residence, and the middle and lower campuses are home to most of the student residences, sports facilities and some academic departments.
The University of Cape Town is well equipped with lecture rooms,labs, student hostels and cafeterias. It’s a complete community. With 18% of the population being international students, this varsity makes a difference in its mixed population by having projects which deal with matters diversity and behavior.
2. University of the Witwatersrand
Popularly known as Wits University, University of the Witwatersrand is one of the best universities in Africa. Founded in a region of Johannesburg where mining is the dominant activity, (It has a lot of gold deposits) Wits has outgrown its potential.
On top of having fast growing departments and infrastructure, Wits is mainly a research university with five campuses, two of these being divided merely by a walk away. Does that make two or one campus with different buildings on either side of the walkaway? The specialty and structure is different so yes, its two campuses.
Besides being a well-known Research University, Wits has two other special features that set it apart from other universities. One, it runs a disability unit which ensures equal education to differently-abled persons who require special facilitation to learn.Splendid.Two, the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre produces the largest number of medics in South Africa. Wits does well in making sure its faculties are efficient and productive. These include Built environment, law and management, health sciences, Science and humanities.
3. Stellenbosch University
This is yet another of the top universities in Africa 2018 ranked 361 worldwide and found in the Stellenbosch town East of Cape Town. Set up in the Old Dutch Colonial architecture, this varsity has grown to have several campuses in South Africa.
The most outstanding features of this university are;
- It is characterized by lots of cafes, galleries and boutiques along its streets.
- It is historically remembered for designing Africa’s first microsatellite back in 1999.
- Students here are at liberty to write exams in two languages, Afrikaans or English. Afrikaans is the official instruction language but if a class has a bigger percentage of English speaking students then English may be used.
- The Stellenbosch university choir is said to be the oldest in the country with two large concert halls built to facilitate its operations.
Obviously, from the description, Stellenbosch is African all the way and many African leaders in South Africa are alumni of this University.
How lovely that it has maintained its originality yet made to become one of the top 20 universities in Africa.
4. University of Pretoria
Universities in South Africa are not complete without a mention to the glorious higher learning institution of Pretoria. Offering a wide scale of courses, it’s one of the largest in the country. The motto of University of Pretoria is Pursuing towards destiny and I believe it must have a role in motivating the institution to becoming one of the top universities in Africa ranking.
Founded in 1908 as a campus of Transvaal University College, Pretoria has grown from 32 students to over 40 thousand and a single unit to 7 campuses.
In the business school alone, the following faculties are available; Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment, Information Technology, Faculty of Law and faculty of Health Sciences.
It continues to grow and prove its academic prowess every day.
5. University of Kwazulu Natal
Kwazulu Natal is the youngest University to join the list of Academic giants in Africa. Formed in 2004 after a merge of University of Durban-Westville and University of Natal.
With a number of famous people as part of its alumni, University of Kwazulu Natal has the faculties of Agriculture, Health Sciences, Humanities, Engineering, Law and Management, Social Sciences and Business Management taught in its main campus and four other subsidiary campuses.
Being a young University, it has a lot of potential and ability to live to its fullest. It’s one university to watch out for in the Varsity rankings as it is doing quite well and could overtake known giants in the very new future.
Top universities in West Africa
So West Africa is not only very productive agriculture wise but also features when top universities in Africa ranking are mentioned. Blessings galore! A part of Africa with a lot of population, it’s good that its education provision to its citizens is of high quality. West Africa covers a very wide scope and therefore has well distributed institutions of higher learning that are doing so well at both African and international levels. Among the best ranked universities in West Africa include;
1. Cairo University
The name should not mislead you into assuming University of Cairo is found in the well-known city of Cairo. On the contrary, it is located south West of River Nile at the city of Giza. Cairo University, which is among the top universities in West Africa is a public university with a very large student population a few of whom are international students.
Striking features of Cairo University include its Grand celebration hall which stands out with its doomed roof.
The large central library is another feature.
The established varsity has over 25 faculties. Wow! That only means one thing; there is a well-diversified scope of learning in Cairo University. Despite being in an Egyptian area, the main language of instruction used is English.
2. Ain Sham University
While some universities just joined the league of the top universities in Africa, Ain Sham University has been here so long it has gotten used to its accreditation. It should probably switch names with the Cairo University due to physical location. Ain Sham is found in Cairo City and enjoys a very large population of scholars.
The public institution was previously known as ‘Ibrahim Pasha’s University.’ It has grown over time to having seven campuses, several research institutes and 15 academic departments. The faculties include Dentistry, Art, Commerce, Education, Agriculture, Computers, Nursing, Engineering and Medicine located in the different campuses while Science, Law and Arts departments are the only ones actually offered in the main campus.
Facts you didn’t know about this university is that is encourages its students to take international study opportunities to increase diversity and get a world-class qualification. For this reason it has partnered with several international institutions to offers some programmes. In its list of partnerships for example is The Imperial College London and McGill University in Canada.
You might also not know that Ain Shams University is built in the place where a former royal palace stood. The ‘Zaafarana’ palace in the ancient Arabic community stood in this site many years ago.
The Egyptian prime minister Abdi El Aziz Muhammad Hegazi and unexpectedly the American Philosopher Charles Butterworth are some of the successful alumni of this university.
A final fact about this West African university is that its emblem connects it to an ancient institution of Egypt that gave people knowledge on astronomy, medicine and engineering. The obelisk and two hawks in this emblem could be their lucky star, the reason they feature in
3. University of Lagos
Officially accredited as an institution of higher learning by the National Universities Commission of Nigeria, University of Lagos is the city’s university just as the name suggests. This is an old university that is around 56 years old and still going strong.
4. Mohammed V University of Rabat
This university was named after a royal decree by the Sultan of Morocco, King Mohammed. Previously it was a dual-campus university divided into two independent universities; a Mohammed V University in Souissi and another in Agdal. Recently they reunited and the two exist as campuses of the same university now.
The Souissi campus is the larger one with ten academic faculties that include The National school of Computer Science and Systems Analysis, the University Institute for Scientific Research, Medicine and Pharmacy, Social Sciences, the Institute of African Studies, Faculty of Dentistry, Educational Sciences, Study and Research for Arabization.
This Rabat University has more to offer Morocco and Africa as a whole than just being in the top universities in Africa list.
Rabat region has a lot of tourist attractions like the ancient castle and lovely sea views. With little human traffic, it’s the best part to enjoy Morocco if you are a foreigner as you have your peace.
READ ALSO: KNUST masters programme fees & courses 2018
Universities in East Africa
East Africa had been left behind in education ranks but it has steadily gone up the ladder to having some of its universities feature in the list of best universities in African countries. Some of the notable universities in East Africa include;
1. Makerere University
Makerere University is one of the oldest in Uganda and Africa too, and has grown to become one of the top 20 universities in Africa. It has a very large population of students and founded in 1922, has produced some of the most famous East African politicians.
Not only was Makerere a technical institute in the colonial times but it was also the center for all African literacy activities and all Ugandans could associate with it, still do. With several colleges and campuses, the faculties are many and diversified. This academic giant of all times teaches accredited courses ranging from Health to engineering and business management.
The varsity provides enough accommodation for its students, with final year medical students having a hostel of their own as a privilege.
2. University of Nairobi
This is the number one university in Kenya and notably, ranks well in Africa and the world Varsity rankings as well. Based in Kenya’s capital Nairobi city, it was began as the Royal Technical College becoming a university in 1970.
The varsity that has many campuses now was once the only university in Kenya. Its faculties include but are not limited to; social sciences, applied sciences, technology, commerce, humanities, medicine and arts. Besides its subsidiary campuses, Nairobi University has six colleges besides the main campus, all located across the city. It’s well organized such that specific specializations are taught in their own different environment from the rest. We have the colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, Education and External Studies, Architecture and Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, Biological and Physical Sciences and Health Sciences.
This university that proudly features in the top ranking of universities in Africa has a very rich alumni network that comprises of prominent politicians and successful professional and business persons. With over 900 running programs that are all delivered with utmost professionalism, there is no doubt it is one of the best in East Africa and Africa in general.
3. University of Dar-es Salaam
With the motto ‘Wisdom is freedom’ in Swahili said ‘Hekima ni Uhuru’, University of Dar-es Salaam is yet another top university in East Africa that has joined the Africa education giants league. Like the name suggests, it’s found in Dar-es Salaam city in Tanzania.
The varsity has grown to have campuses in Tanzania as it has greatly grown in size. Of all universities in Tanzania, it has a nice infrastructure and a large student population. Its intake is competitive, to make sure it has maintained a high level of education performance.
International universities in Africa
Major universities in the world have opened up campuses in Africa in a bid to spread quality education to the grassroot.The campuses are usually run using the education system and structure of the mother institution, with a few alterations to fit in the African envitronment.International universities in Africa are doing so well that they are joining the list of top universities in Africa. The ones mentioned below are among the best and most popular international universities.
1. United States International University – Africa
Popularly known in its abbreviated format as USIU, this is an international university found in Nairobi’s Mirema Estate. It is international because it is recognized both locally (Commission for Higher Learning) and internationally (Western Association of Schools and Colleges WASC).
It is not a young university although most Kenyans and Africans generally came to know of it just recently. Started in 1969 as the Nairobi campus for The United States International University, it was until 1999 that it became a separate university and adapted Africa in its name to become United States International University-Africa.
With the number of alumni steadily growing over the years, there are more than 73 nationalities represented in the school’s student population. Besides linking with the California School of Professional Psychology in 2001, USIU which is one of the best International Universities in Africa has the following academic schools/faculties in its campus which is only one in Kenya; The School of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, The School of Science and Technology, The Chandaria School of Business and The School of Humanities & Social Sciences.
Over the time, the United states International University has continued to prove its prowess in academics by producing some alumni that are role models especially in Kenya. The very famous skilled reporter John Allan Namu is a proud alumni of USIU together with the Managing Director of Kenya Ports Authority Catherine Muturi among others.
2. The American University in Cairo
Nothing much is said of the American University in Cairo, but we can establish that it has the largest English language library in Africa as it mainly teaches English. Not only does it feature in top universities in Africa, but it also appears as number five in the Arab region Universities.
3. The German University in Cairo
Although it is called German University popularly put as GUC, the language of instruction in this international university is English.
The German University in Cairo is an English and liberal arts German-Egyptian university found in Cairo, Egypt’s capital city. Founded after a presidential decree, a consortium of Germans and Egyptians manage the institution which is patroned by University of Ulm and university of Stuttgart.
This university that features in the top 20 universities in Africa operates on a German-European learning program for all its courses. With a vision of “Building a leading center of excellence in teaching and research,’’ GUCS population of both the students and lecturers include international citizens. Although it is found in Cairo, the state of Baden-Württemberg, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), The German Embassy in Cairo, the University of Tübingen, the University of Mannheim, the patron universities ( ) the Arab/German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany, support the University of Germany in Cairo each in their own way.
GUC forms the first German University to be integrated outside Germany. With its main focus on Research, integrating academia and the real industrial experience, GUC has three programmes; B.Sc., M.Sc. and PhD.
4. American International University West Africa
Founded in January 2011 as a campus Serekunda Gambia, American International University West Africa is one of the international universities in African countries. It mainly offers medical courses using the American Medical Schools system.
The varsity has five colleges; College of Nursing, College of Medicine, College of Dentistry, College of Pharmacy and College of Health Professionals.
Abbreviated as AIU, it admits its students three times a year and is one of the best universities in Africa.
READ ALSO: Best scholarship for African students 2018
Best private universities in Africa
Private universities in Africa have been on the rise, something not previously experienced. They have also changed the trends by competitively engaging the best public universities becoming something to reckon with. Private universities may be owned by any other organization of people, just not the government. Here are some of the most renowned private universities in Africa as of 2018.
1. Ashesi University Cairo
Although its name consists of Cairo, Ashesi University - Cairo is a liberal arts institution found in Ghana. Founded by Patrick Awuah, a Ghanaian who lived and worked in the United States for 15 years then decided to return home and begin a new kind of University, Ashesi has come a long way. After a feasibility study carried out in 1998 by Patrick and some graduate students from UC Berkeley who proved the idea viable, the Ashesi University Foundation was formed in 1999 headed by a board of trustees.
This foundation initiated the baby steps of the university, which began with a class of 30 in a rented house that was modified into classrooms. From its humble beginnings, Ashesi now has well established infrastructure and a liberal core curriculum that offers Management Information Systems, Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Business Administration, Electronic Engineering and Computer Science as some of its major courses.
Formed with a lot of passion by a man that had directly tasted the fruits of good education in a bid to get the same to his countrymen, Ashesi University continues to live true to its founder’s dream by being one of the top universities in Africa ranking. We can safely say that it has been worth the sacrifice of Patrick Awuah from the lucrative position of soft wear engineer for Microsoft, a multi-billion international company.
2. Strathmore University Kenya
Popularly referred to using its short form Strath, Strathmore University of Kenya was founded in 1961 as an advanced level form six college by a group of professionals. Although established to offer Science and art subjects, Strathmore university has grown to have a very successful accounting program with 60% of CPA finalists associating their success here.Since March 1966 when the first accountancy students enrolled, this department has not looked back.
The Strathmore Educational Trust is a charitable educational fund set aside by the founders of this university to support students from poor backgrounds pursue a decent education, a great move in the Social corporate activities.
The university continues to do well in its accountancy and business courses under the current Vice Chancellor, Professor John Odhiambo.
3. Covenant University
The Covenant University is a private higher learning Christian center owned by Bishop David Oyedepo, one of Nigeria’s most respected preachers.
After its accreditation in 2002, the Covenant University went on to become one of the names to reckon with matters academic. With its founder Bishop David as the chancellor, this university manages to showcase academic excellence along with solid morality levels. It is no doubt the best private University in Nigeria, offering all secular courses and focusing on good nurtured individuals as well. The alumni are always easily employable.
4. Uganda Christian University (UCU)
Don’t you think a top Christian university is the most ideal place to study? Uganda Christian University in the town of Mukono, east of Kampala, is a private university founded on strict Christian values.
With “Alpha and Omega” as their motto, UCU has grown to have campuses in Arua, Mbale and Kabale, with the main campus remaining in Kigali. Founded in 1997 by the Anglican Church, it was formerly a theological college called Bishop Tucker Theological College.
From a small theological college, Uganda Christian University has grown into a large university with the following academic faculties and schools; Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Development Studies, Department of Health Science, Department of Foundation Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Languages & Literature, Department of Mass Communication, Faculty of Business and Administration, Faculty of Education and Arts, Faculty of Health Science, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Research & Post Graduate Studies and department of Information and Communication Technology.
The medical colleges just recently got accreditation from the Uganda National Council for Higher Education and will be offered starting from August this year. Even with notable alumni from this university, better products are on the way at this rate.
Education in Africa is evidently on an entirely different level after standing the test of time. We are finally getting there, with the number of universities in African countries that feature in the world map. The thirst for education is real and so is the determination to quench it.
READ ALSO: List of tertiary institutions in Ghana 2018