Herbert Wigwe Invests $500m in New University in Nigeria

Herbert Wigwe Invests $500m in New University in Nigeria

•Access Holdings’ chief to lure Dangote, others to mentor students

•University targets to enroll 10,000 students in five years

The Group Managing Director of Access Holdings Plc, Herbert Wigwe, is channeling a $500 million investment into a new university strategically focused on cultivating skills essential for the finance and technology sectors in Nigeria.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Wigwe, revealed that the Wigwe University was set to commence admitting students for undergraduate programs in the coming year.

The curriculum would include disciplines such as management, science, engineering, information technology, and creative arts.

To realise its ambitions, the institution anticipates requiring up to $500 million for scaling within a five-year timeframe.

Wigwe, 57, emphasised the university’s hybrid nature, underscoring the role of technology in attaining educational standards on par with prestigious institutions in the US and UK.

He dismissed the notion of requiring centuries or vast financial resources, drawing parallels with India’s successful production of developers through a singular facility.

Nigeria grapples with a severe skills crisis, as reported by the United Nations Children’s Fund, with one in five out-of-school children globally residing in the nation.

Additionally, a mere 11.8 per cent of Nigeria’s working-age population earns a wage. The country allocated a staggering 96 per cent of its revenue to debt servicing last year, leaving limited funds for education.

The funding gap in education had piqued investor interest, resulting in the establishment of 147 private universities since 1999, outnumbering state-run institutions. However, despite this surge, affluent Nigerians continue to send their children abroad for higher education, with over 44,000 residents studying in UK universities in 2022.

Wigwe, recognising this trend, plans to recruit 30 per cent of the teaching staff from the UK and the US.

Despite the contrasting economic landscapes, tuition fees at Wigwe University are projected at approximately $12,500, along with N3.5 million naira ($4,171) annually. This stands in stark contrast to the public universities charging about $500. Wigwe himself would play an active role in teaching and mentoring, engaging prominent entrepreneurs like billionaire Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man.

The university aims to enroll 1,400 students in its inaugural year, with a projected increase to 10,000 within the next five years.

Wigwe, reflecting from his office in the Access Bank headquarters, emphasised the transformative impact of education, asserting that it goes beyond financial considerations, influencing individuals and nations alike.

Wigwe University is the culmination of the foremost banker’s lifelong ambition to build an exceptional, world-class, innovative, yet uniquely African institution to grow the next generation of leaders who will change the face of the African continent.

“It is the African gateway to the world of entrepreneurship, technology, innovation, and impact. Herbert Wigwe’s mission, through Wigwe University, is to change the course of Nigeria’s future through committed and world-class faculty and globally relevant and locally impactful curricula taught through novel methods to rival the globe’s most respected universities.

Wigwe wrote on the University’s website: “I cannot change the world overnight. But if I can empower even one youth today, tomorrow, they could join me in empowering others. With time, we could change the world. The truth is that the end to the good we can achieve is nowhere in sight. There’s so much more to conquer. There are more lives to impact and generations to uplift to achieve their full potential. History will favour the brave, those who knew their limitations only because they had to defy them. History will favour the fearless.”

On June 9, 2023, the National Universities Commission approved and issued an operational licence to Wigwe University in Isiokpo, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.  The Wigwe University stated that it embodies Nigeria’s resilience, fearless culture, values, and entrepreneurial spirit. The university believes that the world and Africa mostly especially, is in need of problem solvers, torchbearers and game-changers who would form part of its community of learning to create sustainable solutions for the world.

They would have the most conducive environment to do this and to attain their highest potential.

“We are the African spirit of strength in numbers, teamwork, and collaboration. We symbolise and express the irrepressible human spirit of design thinking. We strive for sustainability and a shared prosperous future for all,” it added.

Wigwe University’s vision is, “to ignite Africa’s potential for prosperity, nurture thoughtful, fearless leaders, and become the leading university in Africa,” with a mission “to set a new standard of educational distinction for our continent, students and educators, and nurture the next generation of African leaders as guiding lights for positive impact in a rapidly changing world.”

The university sets a new standard of educational distinction for African students and educators. With its distinctively inventive, pragmatic. The university added: “We believe in a balanced, sustainable lifestyle. From time outdoors to working as a sports team to fostering strong understanding and relationships between peers – our sports and societies offer something for everyone to get involved in.”

It stated: “All our programmes are delivered to an international standard in collaboration with key international partners. Our approach puts us in touch with world-leading curricula, joint research and international exchanges and internship programmes.”

Wigwe University’s undergraduate programmes, from degrees to online courses, offer opportunities for all kinds of fearless, inspired, continual learners. The university will start with at least the colleges of art, management and social sciences, engineering, and science and computing.

Related Articles