Africa: The Next International Student Recruitment Frontier
For ten years I helped to manage a university in Dakar, Senegal. One day, in the breakfast room of my hotel, I noticed that I was the only person having breakfast who was not Chinese. China has made a huge investment in Africa and other countries are doing the same. There are several reasons why I believe that Africa will be the next area of the world to support international student recruitment.
Consider the following:
Six of the world’s fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2012 were in Africa.
Goldman Sachs recently issued a report, “Africa’s Turn,” comparing business opportunities in Africa with those of China in the early 1990s.
Google is the single biggest private sector influence in Africa. Its internet search and email services are transforming the continent. The company is also attempting to help African governments digitize information and make it freely available and is improving translation software to bring more Africans who speak only one language online.
Online Africa is developing faster than offline Africa. According to the May 12th issue of “The Economist,” undersea cables reaching Africa on the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts, plus innovative mobile phone providers, have raised internet speeds and slashed prices. This connectivity is making Africa faster and more transparent in almost everything it does.
China will implement the African Talents Program to train 30,000 personnel, offer 18,000 government scholarships and build cultural and vocational training facilities. China will also continue to implement the China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan to sponsor 100 programs for research, exchange and cooperation between colleges and universities and research scholars.
On July 17, 2012, Australia launched an expanded Australia-Africa Universities Network, a consortium of 17 Australian universities and research institutes and 30 African institutions.
Colleges and universities around the world should consider developing African recruitment strategies and begin to consider building strategic academic and research alliances. To ignore the potential of African student, faculty and administrator exchange programs is to limit a school’s ability to become a player in the next international “hotspot.”