ADvTECH ac­quires a 51% stake in Zam­bia’s Univer­sity of Africa

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Saandile Mchunu

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.