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ECP partners with European DFIs to promote higher education in Africa

Anna Lyudvig
Nov. 20, 2019, 2:16 p.m.
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Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) has partnered with three development finance institutions, Proparco (France), Finnfund (Finland), and IFU (Denmark), to support growth and development of higher education institutions on the African continent.

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Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) has partnered with three development finance institutions, Proparco (France), Finnfund (Finland), and IFU (Denmark), to support growth and development of higher education institutions on the African continent.

Hurley Doddy, ECP Managing Director, Founding Partner, and Co-CEO, told Africa Global Funds that “ECP is excited about this opportunity to support quality higher education institutions in East and West Africa”.

The partnership establishes and finances African Edu Holdings (AEH), a portfolio company dedicated to improving access to quality higher education on the continent.

The Danish SDG Investment Fund, managed by IFU, has invested DKK45m ($6.67m) in AEH, whereas Proparco, a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), has invested $7m, and Finnish development financier Finnfund has contributed $7.

Total investment is DKK150m ($22.23m).

The African Development Bank estimates that 10 to 12 million young people enter the workforce each year and the working-age population is expected to rise by 450 million by 2035.

Since its establishment, AEH has partnered with Maarifa Education Group in East Africa and Takafa Education Group in French-speaking West Africa.

Currently, Maarifa Education owns and operates two universities, Cavendish University Uganda (CUU) and Cavendish University Zambia (CUZ), which have nearly 8,000 students.

Takafa Education’s operations include two universities, Institut Africain de Management (IAM) Senegal and IAM Mali, which serve over 3,000 students and have graduated more than 35,500 students from various programs since its creation in 1996.

Cavendish and IAM universities are leading private universities in their respective countries.

In 2019, CUU won a Consumers Choice Award for the best private university in Uganda, and IAM, a pioneer in the sector, ranked as the top business school in Sub-Saharan Africa by Jeune Afrique.

CUZ has one of the best medical schools and the most advanced medical skills laboratories in the Southern African Development Community.

The reputation of the institutions is supported by faculty and staff who work diligently to provide high-quality, market-relevant education and to support their students in the classroom and beyond.

Through a deep understanding of regional contexts, increased integration of new technologies, and hands-on experiences, the Cavendish universities and the IAM Group strive to empower students to become entrepreneurial and employable as well as engaged and responsible citizens.

As a result of this partnership, the Cavendish universities and the IAM group will be able to fortify their positions by enhancing academic programs, expanding operations, and increasing collaborations with international educational institutions.

By strengthening higher-education institutions in Africa, this partnership strives to provide students with the practical, real-world skillsets necessary to meet crucial development needs and to shape Africa’s future.

Doddy said: “ECP restructured its investment into Maarifa to facilitate capital injection from the partner DFIs. This in turn facilitated the investment into Takafa Holding, a West African higher educational platform operating Institut Africain de Management (IAM) in Senegal and Mali.”

“Overall, the investment will support further expansion as well as initiatives to strengthen the universities’ respective market positions through partnerships and program development,” he added.

“The investment will also facilitate shared lessons learned and operating policy enhancements. ECP anticipates that these universities will directly contribute to SDG 4 relating to global quality education and, by prioritizing market-relevant education, will also contribute to SDG 8 relating to job opportunities and economic growth,” he said.

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