The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has approved an eight-year $40-million corporate loan to the AfeBabalola University (ABUAD) in Ado Ekiti (Nigeria), to finance part of the university’s expansion plan.
The project will make ABUAD a centre of excellence for tertiary education in Africa, expanding access to high-quality education to over 10,000 students per year.
Nigeria is home to 138 universities of which 59 are private. In 2014, only 30% of eligible high school applicants gained admission to universities. The capacity constraints prevent more than one million young people from gaining admission to a tertiary institution in Nigeria each year.
At the same time, the quality of the curriculum offered by most of the universities in Nigeria has not been producing market-ready graduates, as over 75% of Nigerian young graduates are not fully employed.
“Education is one of the booming private sector engagements in Africa at this time. The Bank’s support to the sector will help leverage quality education, especially in science and technology,” said Senior Vice-President FrannieLéautier. The Bank will be exploring other avenues and scholarships in support of education in the disciplines critical to Africa’s development, she added.
ABUAD was established in 2010 as a private non-for-profit company. It is composed of five colleges for undergraduates (engineering, law, medicine and health science, science, and social and management sciences), and a postgraduate school.
All academic programs have been fully accredited by the National Universities Commission and relevant professional bodies. The innovative and market-driven curriculum offered by ABUAD as well as established partnerships with multiple international academic and industrial institutions have led to exponential student growth since ABUAD’s inception, with over 6,500 students currently enrolled.
The expansion plan consists of construction of new facilities – including a 400-bed teaching hospital, an industrial research park, and a small hydro power (SHP) installation (1.1 MW), and capacity strengthening of ABUAD’s administrative and governance structures.
Beyond doubling ABUAD’s current student capacity, the project will create 250 new staff positions, as well as about 1,000 temporary jobs across the construction, supplies and consulting in the value chain. Full/ partial scholarships and other forms of substantial financial aid will be provided to over 500 students beneficiaries during the life of the loan.
The project thoroughly supports the rolling out of the High 5s of the Bank by contributing to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa through high-quality tertiary education, job creation and health service provision; to galvanise the interest of entrepreneurs to establish SME industries in the Ekiti State through the ABUAD industrial research park; to power Africa through its off-grid renewable SHP scheme; and feeding Africa through its support to local farming businesses.
The project, approved by the AfDB Board on October 19, 2016, is the Bank’s first private-sector transaction in the education sector and is therefore a pioneering project.
With emphasis on entrepreneurial and leadership skills, ABUAD is expected to generate over 12,000 high-quality and employable graduates by the end of the loan life, in addition to over 2,400 trained farmers who will benefit from the university’s farmers training programs.
The Bank’s financing will help the university realize its ambitious vision to double its student capacity by 2025, while having strong demonstration effect for the development of the tertiary education sector in Africa.