Editor’s note: At the first public previewing of Ashesi’s strategic plan for its third decade, Ashesi President, Dr. Patrick Awuah underscored The Education Collaborative’s role in strengthening African higher education through collaboration with other institutions across the continent and a range of initiatives over the next ten years. Below is an edited transcript of his remarks. Watch the full remarks below.

When we thought about scaling our impact, that was really informed or guided by the demographic growth in Africa and the softening of borders across the African continent. In a conversation with Reeta Roy, CEO of MasterCard Foundation] she asked, “What we could do to scale Ashesi’s work by a factor of 10 or 100?” 

When we engaged that question of scale and looked at the fact that there were going to be a billion more people on the continent [by 2050], it became very clear to us that this is not a problem to be solved by any one institution. This is a problem to be solved by a system. This is a problem to be solved by engaging the talent of others.

Thirty years ago, there were about 200 universities in sub-Saharan Africa. Today, there are over 1600 universities in Sub-Saharan Africa: so 1400 new universities on the continent. The scaling-up is happening, what is not necessarily happening is the scaling of quality. So we decided we were going to take a systems approach to scale. Our system’s effort is to engage with other universities so that together we can improve the quality of higher education on the continent.