African and Global Academic Leaders Convene to Address Staffing Crisis in African Higher Education


For further information contact:
Dr. Pascal Hoba at + 233- 21 761609 
E-mail: phoba(at)

With the fastest-growing rates of higher education enrollment in the world as well as ample research demonstrating tertiary education’s positive impact on economic growth, poverty reduction, national health and governance, Africa’s universities are fast becoming the continent’s primary development tool. Yet too few men and women are entering academia to meet the growing demand for professors. Add to that the often inadequate preparation of those who do enter the field, and Africa’s institutions of higher education are faced with a severe staffing crisis—a situation compounded by the rising tide of retirements among Africa’s aging cohort of initial post-independence academics.

To address this crisis, which has the potential to halt recent progress and even roll back a generation of social and economic gains, African and global higher education leaders will gather for a University Leaders’ Forum in Accra, Ghana, November 22-25. The Forum will be convened by a steering committee comprising the continent’s most prominent educators, hosted by the University of Ghana and sponsored by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, a group consisting of Carnegie Corporation of New York and six other U.S. private foundations.Participants will include Vice Chancellors (presidents) of many African universities, leaders of major international development organizations, business leaders, U.S. and European university presidents and donors.

The University Leaders’ Forum Steering Committee intends this meeting to be a call to action for everyone involved in African higher education. The three-day Forum will begin with an overview on the value of scholars to Africa’s development and an articulation of the staffing crisis, and conclude with a plan for moving forward. Organizers and participants will take a hard look at the outdated faculty training systems currently in place throughout the continent and will share and discuss the impact of innovative methods for recruiting, developing and retaining the next generation of African academics. Expected outcomes include workable strategies for cultivating and acquiring new academic talent, and for managing the continued development of professors currently in practice.

The current crisis has arisen due to a number of influential push or pull factors. Push factors, which usually occur within an individual’s county of origin, inhibit recruitment, development and retention by pushing academics—or those considering a career in academia—out of the profession and often out of the country. Pull factors, on the other hand, are deliberate and/or unintended outside actions that draw academics—or potential academics—to other countries or other professions. Forum participants will debate a series of push and pull factors and recommend key policies and actions to enable higher education to continue acting as Africa’s primary development tool.


  • Lack of infrastructure: equipment, teaching materials, libraries
  • Slow promotion process
  • Gender discrimination
  • Lack of professional development & support
  • Heavy undergraduate teaching load
  • Poor institutional setting of priorities
  • Low remuneration
  • Lack of housing


  • High status of academia elsewhere compared to low status at home
  • More government funding elsewhere compared with less funding at home
  • Better remuneration in private and civil sectors than in academia
  • Overseas opportunities
  • Opportunities in wealthier African countries
  • Overseas training that increases threat of brain drain

Additional information about the University Leaders Forum, including a detailed program and full list of attendees, is available at

University Leaders’ Forum speakers include (in alphabetical order) - subject to change

Shehu Abdullahi, Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University
Akwasi Asabere-Ameyaw, Vice Chancellor, University of Education Winneba
Saleem Badat, Vice Chancellor, Rhodes University
Olafemi Bamiro, Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan
Russel Botman, Vice Chancellor, University of Stellenbosch
Benjamin Cheboi, CEO National Higher Education Loans Board, Kenya
Cheryl de la Rey, Council on Higher Education, South Africa
Nadu Denloye, Director and Co-founder, Telnet Nigeria; board member, EcoBank Nigeria
Paul Effah, Executive Secretary, National Council for Tertiary Education, Ghana
Alex Ezeh, Executive Director, Africa Population and Health Research Center 
Mike Faborode, Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University
George Gyan-Baffour, Honorable Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Ghana
Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, Vice Chancellor, Bayero University Kano
A.B.K. Kasozi, Executive Director, National Council for Higher Education, Uganda
John Kirkland, Executive Secretary, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (UK)
Goolam Mohamedbhai, Secretary-General, Association of African Universities 
Olive Mugenda, Vice Chancellor, Kenyatta University
Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, Vice Chancellor, Bayero University Kano
Rwekaza Mukandala, Vice Chancellor, University of Dar es Salaam
Peter Materu, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank
James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director, Equity Bank Limited, Kenya 
Njabulo Ndebele, Co-chair, University Leaders Forum Steering Committee
Loyiso Nongxa, Vice Chancellor, University of Witwatersrand
Brian O’Connell, Vice Chancellor, University of the Western Cape
Robert Okok Oceng, Assistant Commissioner for Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Uganda
Julius Okojie, Executive Secretary. National Universities Commission, Nigeria
Anthony Oteng-Gyasi, Managing Director, Tropical Cable and Conductors
Aki Sawyerr, former Secretary General, Association of African Universities
Simon Schwartzman, Instituto de Estudos do Trabalho e Sociedade, Brazil
Ruth Simmons, President, Brown University
C.N.B. Tagoe, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana and Co-Chair, University Leaders’ Forum Steering Committee
David Wiley, Professor, Michigan State University