In an opinion piece featured in Newsweek, the Chancellor, Prof. Patrick Verkooijen, delves into the critical need for increased investment and entrepreneurship within the realm of African higher education. Drawing from his recent immersive experience at the University of Nairobi with students and Faculty members, Prof. Verkooijen paints a vivid picture of the vibrant atmosphere pulsating through the campus—a testament to the burgeoning demand for tertiary education among the continent's youth.

Prof. Verkooijen addresses the harsh realities confronting African universities. Despite witnessing a remarkable surge in demand for higher education, institutions across the continent find themselves grappling with a formidable financial gap. This chasm, Prof. Verkooijen contends, poses a significant barrier to meeting the escalating educational needs of Africa's youth. He cites alarming statistics from the World Bank, revealing that while millions of young Africans enter the labor force monthly, only a fraction secure formal employment as a stark reminder of the urgent imperative to equip this burgeoning demographic with the requisite skills and knowledge to navigate an increasingly complex global landscape.

Proposing a pragmatic solution to bridge this chasm, Prof. Verkooijen advocates for robust partnerships between African universities and the private sector. Drawing parallels with successful collaborations witnessed in the Netherlands, the UK, and the United States, he extols the transformative potential of such alliances in bolstering institutional resources, fostering innovation, and propelling academic excellence. In his view, these collaborations not only hold the key to unlocking much-needed financial resources but also serve as a conduit for nurturing a symbiotic relationship between academia and industry. 

Furthermore, Prof. Verkooijen underscores the catalytic role of African solutions in tackling global imperatives such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. From Rwanda's visionary Innovation City to pioneering initiatives at the University of Nairobi, he highlights the tangible impact of university-industry collaborations in fostering innovation, driving economic development, and nurturing a new generation of African innovators poised to effect transformative change on a global scale.

In closing, Prof. Verkooijen issues a clarion call for heightened investment in African higher education as a strategic imperative essential for steering the continent towards sustainable development and green growth. Emphasizing the symbiotic benefits of partnerships between academia and the private sector, he envisions a future where African universities emerge as vibrant hubs of innovation, empowerment, and socio-economic progress and a beacon of hope illuminating the path towards a brighter, more prosperous Africa. 

Source: Adapted from Prof. Patrick Verkooijen's Opinion Piece Originally published by NewsWeek