Title: Africa Needs Great Universities as Centers for Innovation, Technology and Development
Abstract: This paper explores the following development questions that perplex most Africans: “Why do African countries rely on foreign companies and foreign experts for almost all our development projects? Why can’t we build our own roads and mine our own minerals? How can we have so much natural wealth and yet be so poor? Why do we invent so little?” This paper argues that the answer lies in the current absence of great universities in Africa. The presence of great universities in a country is a 21st century indicator of the presence of high levels of innovation, technology, development and wealth in that country. According to the three major rankings of world universities, none of the world’s top 100 great universities is in Africa (Shanghai-ARWU, THE, and QS-topuniversities.com). Although Africa was a pioneer among the continents in innovations such as human language, domestication of fire, making of tools, invention of agriculture, development of writing, and creation of great centers of learning in ancient times, it has fallen behind other continents over the last 500 years because of the mega-disruptions of African societies by enslavement and colonization, and the mega-deceptions of IMF-World Bank SAPs. Ancient African centers of innovation included the Kingdom of Kush and ancient Egypt in northern Africa; Axum in Eastern Africa; Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe in Southern Africa; Kongo in central-Africa; Timbuktu in Western Africa; etc. A genuine African renaissance will only start when we transform African universities into great universities again.
Key Words: Great Universities; Innovation; Technology; Development; mega-disruptions; mega-deceptions; African Renaissance
Prof. Olubayi Olubayi is the Chief Academic Officer at Maarifa Education and is currently focused on the implementation of global best practices in higher education in Africa.
Before joining Maarifa, he was the Vice Chancellor of the International University of East Africa (IUEA) in Uganda. He is a scientist and an expert on bacteria, education policy, pedagogy, learning, leadership, social-entrepreneurship and co-existence.
As a scientist and eclectic scholar, Olubayi earned his Ph.D. on bacteria-and-plant cell interactions at Rutgers University, holds a research patent on the flocculation of bacteria and has published several scholarly articles in microbiology, biotechnology and social science.
As an educator he taught in the USA (Middlesex College and at Rutgers University) for 16 years, and has taught critical thinking in the IUEA MBA program. He has been an advisor and /or consultant to government officials in Kenya and South Africa, on matters of literacy, education policy, biotechnology, sustainable development and social cohesion.
As a social entrepreneur, Prof. Olubayi co-founded the NGO Kiwimbi International and the widely respected American nonprofit Global Literacy Project which sets up libraries worldwide and provides global service-learning opportunities. Working with Global Literacy Project Olubayi helped ship over 2 million books from the USA to African countries including Kenya. Prof. Olubayi is the author of the widely read book “Education for a Better World.”