The African School of Economics Expands to Zanzibar

Leading Pan-African University To Launch First East African Location

By Olamide Akinolugbade
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Fumba Town, Zanzibar. 20 November 2023. The African School of Economics (ASE) , the Pan-African university developing the frontier of Africa’s next generation of scholars, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurs to establish homegrown solutions on African challenges, has officially announced its expansion to Zanzibar. It marks the university’s first location in East Africa, with plans for a state-of-the-art campus for African students and world-class faculty. ASE will also become the latest high-profile addition to the Silicon Zanzibar initiative as it kickstarts the next phase of its expansion plan to become the go-to Pan-African centre of higher learning.

In partnership with renowned educational institutions including Princeton University and Indian Institute of Technology Madras, ASE will deliver graduate and undergraduate degree programs focused on STEM and social science training through three departments - the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the Engineering School. Strategically, it is the first campus to have a focus on technology, aiming to become part of the tech ecosystem in Silicon Zanzibar. ASE is committed to actively engaging in the launch of tech startups, training up the human capital and skills necessary to enable the development and commercialisation of new technology and incubate innovative companies.

To support the upcoming launch, the university will also accelerate its current recruitment drive to attract 50 elite faculty members and 900 students from across the world, providing the highest standard of learning to ensure African students can compete on a global stage.

Speaking on the launch of ASE’s new campus, Professor Leonard Wantchekon, Founder and President at ASE, says “Since launching in 2014, the vision for ASE has always been to establish a Pan-African system of universities and with our first launch in East Africa, it was vital we selected an environment which strongly reflected our ethos. At ASE, we firmly believe it is simply not enough to train up STEM talent, but we must also create an enabling policy environment which empowers their ideas to truly scale.”

“Through its Silicon Zanzibar initiative, Zanzibar has made impressive headway in this regard by establishing policies which heavily encourage frontier innovation. Coupled with its strong entrepreneurial spirit and close proximity to a number of well-regarded East African universities, we’re fully convinced these qualities make Zanzibar the ideal destination to spearhead the next chapter of our Pan-African expansion.”

“For the past 12 years, Princeton’s Department of Politics has served as an incubator for ASE. Last year, an ASE alum earned his Princeton Ph.D. and has been appointed assistant professor at New York University (NYU), a world-class university. We congratulate ASE on the expansion of its mission of excellence in research and training to a second regional hub on the continent”, said Professor Rodney Priestley, Dean of the Graduate School, and the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University.

Launched in Benin in 2014, ASE was founded to address the twin challenges of a lack of African representation at the forefront of cutting-edge research as well as limited training of top-tier talent on the continent. With over 2,000 students and alumni, 12+ degree programs and four campuses across its locations of Benin, Côte D’Ivoire, Nigeria and Zanzibar, it ranks as one of Africa’s leading universities in terms of research quality, the calibre of faculty and students as well as its superb record of graduate placements.

For the past 7 years, over 15% of ASE graduates have been placed in top global PhD programs at institutions including Princeton, Harvard University, Penn State University and the University of Wisconsin. 75% of graduates have research, government, and private sector positions both in global and regional offices at UNDP, the Central Bank of West African States, the governments of Togo, Benin, and Cameroon, as well as a Junior faculty position at New York University.

Honourable Minister Lela Mussa, The Minister of Education for Zanzibar, adds “Zanzibar is pursuing education transformation to achieve its national development vision. We are promoting international universities and higher learning institutions to establish campuses here in the isles to support human capital development."

In addition to its purely academic pursuits, ASE’s planned campus in Silicon Zanzibar will also begin to set up a robust network of campuses that serve as high-quality anchor tenants to nascent free economic zones and charter cities across the continent. This is geared towards not only attracting high-quality talent for these new zones and cities to thrive but also incubating breakthrough innovation and high-quality research.

Daniel Yu, Founder and CEO of Wasoko, Africa’s largest B2B e-commerce network and the official private sector ambassador for Silicon Zanzibar, closes “ASE’s presence in Zanzibar will undoubtedly have a transformative impact in the development of a crucial pipeline of tech talent for the island and beyond. We look forward to exploring areas of collaboration alongside them in the near future.”

The announcement of ASE’s launch in Zanzibar follows the recent award of the Global Economy Prize to Prof. Leonard Wantchekon in June 2023 for his visionary work in both establishing ASE as well as his world-leading research in development economics. He received the award alongside Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organization, and Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, Chief Innovation Officer of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Kiel, Germany.