A few weeks ago, I spoke on a panel at the African Diaspora Investment Symposium in California. In preparing for my remarks, I came across a research document titled: The economic impact of universities: Evidence from across the globe by Anna Valero and John Van Reenen. I was so excited that you may think I had found gold. Those of us in education in Africa are often having to justify why universities are an essential investment to economic development. Sometimes, we are pitted against our fellow warriors working in primary and secondary education, TVET (technical and vocational education and training) or adult learning when asked which is more important.

Understanding that decision makers have limited resources, access to all forms of education is necessary and we must all work together to make sure that the African youth are not left behind. The research document states, “the empirical macro literature has generally found that at the country level, human capital (typically measured by years of schooling) is important for development and growth”.

In describing specifically how universities have had an economic impact on countries and regions, it states, “we find that a 10% increase in the number of universities in a region is associated with about 0.4% higher GDP per capita.” I am elated to be part of the African higher education ecosystem and in 2020 there are thoughtful investments in education from governments, private sector and individuals to help the youth of Africa prosper.