A new Pan African University (PAU), which will consist of five institutes and focus mainly on science, technology and innovation, will cost US$45 million, and it will be financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), reports from Tunis, where the financial institution is based, said on Friday.
AfDB approved the African Development Fund grant on Wednesday to give the go-ahead to the new university, which it said would be a groundbreaking step in strengthening higher education and building human capital in Africa.
“Thousands of students all over Africa will benefit from this project. This is truly an amazing regional effort to help African universities achieve world-class status,” Agnes Soucat, AfDB human development director, said in a statement.
“It will increase the pool of African scientists and researchers not only to serve the needs of the continent but to help youth become competitive in international labour markets,” Soucat added.
The PAU will establish an academic network of already existing post-graduate and research institutions intended to serve all African countries, AfDB said. Consisting of five thematic institutes based in East, West, Central, North and Southern Africa the PAU will deliver programs in:
• Basic sciences, technology and innovation (East Africa)
• Earth and life sciences including health and agriculture (West Africa)
• Governance, humanities and social sciences (Central Africa)
• Water and energy sciences including climate change (North Africa)
• Space sciences (Southern Africa)
Soucat said this project is a response to a request from the African Union (AU) for technical assistance and financial resources for the design and operation of a network of hubs of excellence in higher education.
This is in the aim of helping meet the need for education, training and research in five key areas of African development.
The first three PAU thematic institutes will be based in Kenya, Nigeria and Cameroon:
• PAU Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (Kenya)
• PAU Institute for Life and Earth Sciences (Nigeria)
• PAU Institute for Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences (Cameroon).
Africa has been slow to develop its science and technology sectors and commercialise its innovations, the financial institution said.
Currently the best African university ranks just 113th globally, AfDB deplored, adding that of the 400 top universities worldwide, only four are in Africa, and are located in South Africa. “Also, while Africa accounts for 13.4% of the world’s people, it produces only 1.1% of world scientific knowledge,” the statement said.
However, it remains unclear when the project will kick off, how long the construction operation will last and when the institution will open its learning doors to potential students.