Several African countries have 1 university each; Nigeria has 262

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NIGERIA has the highest number of universities in Africa, while Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea count among nations with fewer than 20 universities.

Research firm Statistica published foundings showing that Nigeria has the highest number of universities in Africa. As of July 2020, the West African nation boasted 262 higher education institutions, while countries like Equatorial Guinea have only one university.

Making sense of the metrics

However, having too many universities does not equate to having a more educated citizenry, just as having few universities does not mean the citizenry is less educated.

Equally important to note is that having too many universities does not mean the quality of education is higher. Equatorial, having only one university, has a much higher literacy rate than most African countries.

Scholars and academic analysts agree that a more meaningful metric would be to find which country has the largest percentage of the population with university education. Another metric would be rating the number of universities per capita.

The report published by Statistica reveals that the bulk of African universities are located in North African countries. Tunisia ranks second with 204 universities, while Morocco comes third with 153 universities.

The research also found that Kenya and South Africa complete the top 5 list, with 129 and 123 universities respectively.

Country Number of universities
Nigeria 262
Tunisia 204
Morocco 153
South Africa 123
Source: Statistica

Another point worth noting from Statistica results is that war-ravaged countries including Somalia, DR Congo and the Sudan have far more universities than counties which have had no war in half a century.

The figures also show that populous nations tend to have more universities as the large population sizes mean higher demand for education.

Southern Africa

The lowest number of universities per nation is in southern Africa, where Lesotho and Eswatini have two universities each, followed by Namibia at five universities.

South Africa occupies the other end of the spectrum, followed by DR Congo and Zambia which have 47 and 44 universities apiece.

CountryNumber of Universities
South Africa123
DR Congo 47
Zambia 44
Angola 23
Source: Statistica

Eastern Africa

Kenya tops the number of universities in East Africa, followed by Ethiopia (73), Uganda (60) and Somalia with 60 universities.

No African country was found to have no university at all, while six countries on the continent have one university each. Most of these countries have small populations and are central in west Africa.

Fourteen countries in Africa have less than 5 universities, while six of the rated 50 African nations have over 100 universities each. ■

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