The Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) Ado-Ekiti has been granted a $40 million corporate loan by the African Development Bank (ADB) to finance an eight-year expansion.
It is all to make the institution a centre of excellence for tertiary education in Africa that will specialise in nurturing entrepreneurial and leadership skills in young persons.
According to a press statement from the bank, the plan will help expand the capacity of ABUAD to offer high-quality education to over 10,000 students per year. The loan is expected to help the university realise its ambitious vision of doubling its student capacity by 2025 while having strong demonstration effect for the development of the tertiary education sector in Africa.
The project, which was approved by the ADB Board of Directors on October 19, 2016, is the bank’s first private-sector transaction in the education sector.
The statement reads: “The expansion plan consists of construction of new facilities – including a 400-bed teaching hospital, an industrial research park, and a small hydro power (SHP) installation (1.1 MW), and capacity strengthening of ABUAD’s administrative and governance structures.
“Beyond doubling ABUAD’s current student capacity, the project will create 250 new staff positions, as well as about 1,000 temporary jobs across the construction, supplies and consulting in the value chain. Full/ partial scholarships and other forms of substantial financial aid will be provided to over 500 students beneficiaries during the life of the loan.”
At the end of the project, ABUAD is expected to generate over 12,000 high-quality and employable graduates, in addition to over 2,400 trained farmers who will benefit from the university’s farmers training programmes.
ADB Senior Vice-President FrannieLéautier was quoted as saying: “Education is one of the booming private sector engagements in Africa at this time. The bank’s support to the sector will help leverage quality education, especially in science and technology.”
She added that the ADB will be exploring other avenues and scholarships in support of education in the disciplines critical to Africa’s development.
Nigeria has 138 universities, including 59 privately-owned ones. But, the country has been experiencing capacity constraints; as a large number of eligible applicants are unable to secure university admission.
In 2014, only 30 per cent of eligible secondary school leavers who sought university admission secured a place. The capacity constraints prevent more than one million young people from gaining admission to a tertiary institution in Nigeria each year.
At the same time, the quality of the curriculum offered by most of the universities in Nigeria has not been producing market-ready graduates, as over 75 per cent of Nigerian young graduates are not fully employed.
Established in 2010 as a private non-for-profit company, ABUAD is composed of five colleges for undergraduates (engineering, law, medicine and health science, science, and social and management sciences), and a postgraduate school.
All its academic programmes have been fully accredited by the National University Commission (NUC) and relevant professional bodies. The innovative and market-driven curriculum offered by the school, as well as established partnerships with multiple international academic and industrial institutions, have led to exponential student growth since its inception, with over 6,500 students currently enrolled.
The project is in line with the bank’s vision of assisting to improve the quality of life for Africans, through high-quality tertiary education, job creation and health service provision. Through the assistance, the ADB also intends to galvanise the interest of entrepreneurs to establish small and medium-scaled industries in the Ekiti State, through the ABUAD industrial research park, to power Africa through its off-grid renewable small hydro scheme, as well as feed Nigerians and Africans in general through the school’s support to local farming businesses.‘