ADvTECH acquires a 51% stake in Zambia’s University of Africa
AFRICA’S largest private education provider, ADvTECH yesterday announced that it has acquired a 51 percent stake in the University of Africa (UoA) for an undisclosed amount, marking the group’s first tertiary partnership outside of South Africa.
ADvTECH chief executive, Roy Douglas, said the acquisition would advance the group’s growth strategy in the continent, particularly in the area of distance and technology enabled learning. “We share a similar vision for quality education and look forward to helping drive UoA’s vision to become the leading pan-African provider of quality distance education.” Douglas said.
UoA, a private distance-learning institution based in Zambia has a growing student base from across the continent and an expanding portfolio of qualifications. The university has more than 2 000 students across the continent.
ADvTECH acquisition of the university comes after the International Finance Corporation bought a 4 percent stake last year for R320 million to support the group’s expansion strategy. UoA was founded in 2006 and has footprints in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Swaziland and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Douglas said the UoA acquisition would take its interests in tertiary division to 10 brands across 26 sites in sub-Saharan Africa. ADvTECH owns brands like Rosebank College, Vega and Varsity College are among the list of tertiary institutions.
Nolwandle Mthombeni, an equity analyst at Mergence Investment Managers, said ADvTECH had spent the past three years focussing on growing the its footprint mainly in schools. Mthombeni said it looked like the group was now shifting its focus to the tertiary division.
“It is not surprising that they are starting to seek growth within the rest of Africa. In recent results presentation, management made known their ambitions to expand into the rest of the continent, especially with IFC coming on board as a shareholder.
“This announcement comes after its competitor (Curro Holdings) also announced a similar transaction outside South Africa, which means these companies are following a similar strategy. Overall it is a welcome acquisition,” said Mthombeni.
With South Africa experiencing problems in its universities because of the “#FeesMustFall’ campaign,“I think the provision of more affordable alternatives within any system benefits both the country’s citizens and the government and the same rings true for higher education. The only drawback is that within our country there is still a stigma that private tertiary education is second tier to our public universities.
“A potential employer will more likely employ a graduate from the University of Cape Town as an example than, for instance, Rosebank College.
“So while the #FeesMustFall campaign has increased the necessity for more affordable private tertiary education, this needs to be followed by an increased acceptance by prospective employers of the qualifications from these institutions,” she said.
ADvTECH shares recorded a slight drop of 0.06 percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R16.70.