Some time ago, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Rakesh Wahi in Lagos. Wahi is an Indian entrepreneur involved in early stage investments in emerging markets. He’s invested in various geographies – including Sub-saharan Africa (SSA) – and in various industries – including education. To give you an idea of his profile, he’s the founder of CNBC Africa and of Forbes Africa – to name just a couple of his ventures in over 20 countries. During his presentation, he mentioned that he plans to set up 10 universities across Africa: quite impressive!There is huge variation across countries in terms of adult literacy (and “numeracy”) rate . The World Bank measures this as the percentage of the population age 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life, and who have the ability to make simple arithmetic calculations. Take it with caution: some SSA countries are missing (including Nigeria and Kenya, for instance), and depending on the country the data refer to 2011, 2012, or 2013. Good enough as an approximation – despite all of the problems with official statistics about Africa.
Adult literacy varies from as low as 15 % in Niger to as high as 95 % in Equatorial Guinea . To give you an idea of the various countries included in the World Bank database:
Add to this population growth. A report by the United Nations on World Population Prospects forecasts that Africa will represent 25 % of the world population by 2050, and 39 % by 2100 up from 16 % in 2015 . In contrast, Europe will be 7 % by 2050, and 5.7 % by 2100 down from 10 % in 2015.
The need to invest in education in SSA becomes apparent. The creation of an African virtual and e-University is one of the projects in Agenda 2063. A critical one in my opinion. With all of its drawbacks, virtual programs are a way to meet the urgent need to reach the crowds.