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ACTIS launches the first Pan-Africa private higher education network

On Tuesday 11th July 2017, a London based equity firm and a leading investor in growth markets, Actis, announced the launch of a major pan-African higher education initiative to be known as Honoris United Universities.

The University will harness the collaborative intelligence and the pioneering efforts of these institutions to educate Africa’s next generations of leaders and professionals. The higher education platform worth $275m spans across nine African countries, which include Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

“I am proud to introduce Honoris United Universities, a unique platform providing international quality education. It is rooted in the vision of the founders of the member institutions,” said Luis Lopez, the newly appointed CEO of Honoris United Universities.

Honoris United Universities is the first African private higher education network bringing together the leading tertiary education institutions in North and Southern Africa for the first time.

According to Luiz, Honoris United Universities is rooted in the vision of the founders of the member institutions. The founders are aware of the vital need for their communities to develop human capital; they have each worked for decades to build relevant and demanding academic models with the dual objectives of developing the employability and the life skills of their graduates. We believe our key values – collaborative intelligence, mobility and agility – unite us in the purpose of securing a successful impact for our students, their families and their communities.

The Founders of Honoris United Universities include Slah and Chédia Ben Turkia, who established Université Centrale, IMSET (Institut Maghrébin des Sciences Economiques et de Technologie) and Académie d’Art de Carthage in Tunisia; Professor Yusuf Karodia, the founder of MANCOSA & REGENT Business School in Southern Africa; Dr. Bargach El Fatimi, Dr. Jawad Khayat, Dr. Kamal Daissaoui and Mr. Zouhair Benabbou, as founders of EMSI and Mr. Lotfi El Eulj, Mr. Abdelaziz Lahlou and their partners, the founders of Université Mundiapolis. These leaders are characterised by a strong belief in creating pan-regional successful graduates with cross-border academic qualifications and work experience to be competitive in today’s fast-paced and demanding labour markets.

To date, Actis, has invested more than $500m in private education in several countries like Brazil and China. However it started investing in Francophone Africa and in December 2014, it made an investment in Université Centrale Group, the leading post-secondary education group in Tunisia. In 2016, the platform expanded to Morocco, creating a Northern Africa Hub through its investment in Université Mundiapolis. Mundiapolis is renowned for its international approach and focus on employability.

“We have developed extensive domain knowledge in the education sector by backing the trend for emerging market consumers to secure their own and their children’s future quality of life by investing in their education. This has given us the credibility and experience to identify and to work with world-class institutions to support their growth ambitions. We are absolutely thrilled to expand our partnership with Université Centrale and Université Mundiapolis to MANCOSA, REGENT and EMSI – three incredibly impactful market leaders,” said Hichem Omezzine, Co-Lead Global Education Sector, Actis.

Apart from the Launch of Honoris United Universities Actis also announced the following:

Actis announced a further commitment to Francophone Africa through an investment, subject to regulatory approvals, in EMSI, Ecole Marocaine des Sciences de l’Ingénieur the largest private institution in Morocco and the leading private engineering school.

Actis also announced the expansion of Honoris United Universities to South Africa, an important Anglophone beacon market that will anchor the platform in Southern Africa. Subject to regulatory approvals, Honoris has entered into an investment agreement with Management College of Southern Africa, better known as “MANCOSA,” and the REGENT Business School. Together, MANCOSA and REGENT are South Africa’s leading private distance learning institutions, focused on providing accredited, accessible and affordable education.

These agreements in Morocco and South Africa mark the genesis of the pan-African education leadership position that Honoris United Universities seeks to cement. As a whole, Honoris United Universities will offer more than 100 degrees in fields including Health Sciences, Engineering, IT, Business, Law, Architecture, Arts and Design, Media, Education and Political Science. Delivery is focused on student success and accessibility and includes a blend of on-campus, learning centers and distance learning.

“Actis has been operating in Africa for over seven decades. Through the businesses in which we invest we employ over 100,000 people. We understand not only what students are looking for in terms of quality and access but what their prospective employers are looking for when they graduate. Businesses are looking for applicants with internationally accredited levels of education. Employers in Africa have ambitions across the continent and beyond – they need candidates with global perspectives but who understand the diversity of Africa and their local markets and can demonstrate the skills to operate successfully, said Rick Philips, Partner, Actis.

Here is what you didn’t know about Actis

  • Over the past decade, Actis has invested in assets valued at $1.4 billion on a gross asset value basis.
  • In 2014, Actis sold part of its share in Ugandan power utility, Umeme, to institutional and retail investors, reducing its stake from 60.08 percent to 14.3 percent.
  • In 2015, it sold its 30 percent stake in Globeleq Africa, the energy company that owns the 75 megawatts, Kenyan-based thermal power generator, Tsavo Power, to CDC and Norwegian development financier, Norfund. This deal was worth $227 million.
  • In November 2015, Actis bought a majority stake in Nigerian fund manager, Sigma Pensions, for $62 million. It also invested $65 million in South Africa’s leading independent sports and lifestyle shoe retailer, Tekkie Town.
  • It has invested heavily in several business sectors in Nigeria, which earned it an award in 2014 as the ‘Firm of the Year in Africa’ by Private Equity International as well as an ‘African Infrastructure Fund Manager of the Year, 2014’ by Infrastructure Investor.
  • Actis’ energy business invests in buy-and-build power generation and distribution businesses in Latin America, Africa and South Asia. The funds have invested over US$2.1 billion in more than 31 companies across 25+ countries generating 15GW of energy capacity and directly impacted 68 million consumers.
  • Over 40 percent of Actis’ investments are located across Africa. With $3 billion invested in the continent, Africa is at the heart of the firm’s strategy.
  • Actis has extensive domain knowledge in education and has invested and committed over $US 500m in recent years in the sector in China, Brazil and across Africa.
  • Actis believes access to quality education is integral to developing the next generation of leaders capable of positively impacting tomorrow’s societies and economies.

Article by Fumnanya Agbugah, Ventures Africa

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