50 Top Universities in Africa and their Notable Alumni

Which institutions are regarded as the best universities in Africa?

When pursuing higher education, students mostly look for the subject criteria, fee structure, and extra-curricular facilities. However, it is equally important to consider the institution’s standards and reputation.

Universities in Africa are ranked according to their standards by many reputable organizations. 4icu.org is one of those organizations. 4icu is an independent ranking organization; it does not rank schools by the quality of education provided but by the popularity of these universities, specifically, by analyzing their web popularity and web presence.

This list of top universities in Africa is based on rankings assigned by 4icu.org.

Top Universities in Africa

top universities in africa

  1. University of Cape Town – South Africa

Founded in 1829, UCT is a public research university is the oldest university in South Africa. It is famously known for being a member of several organizations including Worldwide Universities Network. UCT has produced five noble laureates over the years including Noble Peace Prize winner Ralph. It is ranked as the best university in Africa by all ranking organizations; this makes University of Cape Town the top university in Africa and the best university in South Africa.

  1. University of South Africa – South Africa

The University of South Africa is a top university founded in 1873. It is the largest university in Africa and annually attracts one-third of university students in South Africa because the school operates as an open distance education institution. It is the alma mater of several South African politicians including Ahmad Kathrada and Trevor Manuel. It is regarded as one of the best universities in Africa.

  1. University of Pretoria – South Africa

Established in 1908, this is a multi-campus research university that accommodates students wishing to pursue various subject fields. The business management faculty is the most famous in the campus; it has produced notable CEOs in the continent including Dr. Anton Rupert and Marius Kloppers.

  1. University of Stellenbosch – South Africa

The University was founded in 1903. It was the first university in the African Continent to sign the Berlin Declaration to get access to the fields of science and humanities. The school has produced several acclaimed justices over the years including Edwin Cameron and Lourens Ackerman. It is a well-renowned university in Africa.

  1. University of the Witwatersrand – South Africa

Situated in Johannesburg, this establishment was founded in 1896. Commonly known as Witts University, it is highly famous for mining studies. Nadine Gordimer, the Noble Prize Winner for Literature in 1991 is a notable alumnus of the University. It is one of the top universities in Africa.

  1. Cairo University – Egypt

It was founded in 1908 and was funded by a group of private citizens with royal birth. Regarding enrollment, it is ranked among the 50 largest universities in the world. It is the best university in Egypt and one of the most prestigious universities in Africa. The Deposed president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi is a notable product of the University among others.

  1. University of Dar es Salaam – Tanzania

It was established in the year 1961 as an affiliate college of the University of London. Notable Prime Ministers of Tanzania including Joseph Warioba and Mizengo Pinda are graduates of this university. It is one of the best Universities in Africa.

  1. Rhodes University – South Africa

Named after Cecil Rhodes, the school was founded in 1904. It is one of the oldest and largest universities in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. RU is the alma mater of notable media personalities in South Africa including Barry Smith and Norman Bailey.

  1. Mansoura University – Egypt

Founded in 1982, this university is one of the largest higher education institutions in Egypt. Over the years, it has contributed much towards the cultural and scientific life in Egypt by producing several notable individuals including the famous urologist Mohamed Ghoneim. It is regarded as one of the best Universities in Africa

  1. University of Nairobi – Kenya

Established in 1056, this institution is a distinguished collegiate research university in Kenya. To cope with the increasing demand for higher education in Kenya, the University launched a self-funded enrollment procedure. It has produced top cabinet Ministers in Kenya including Michael Kamau and Felix Koskei. It is one of the best Universities in Africa

  1. Alexandria University – Egypt

It was established in 1938 and became an independent entity in 1942. Currently, it is the second largest university in Egypt. It has many affiliations with various universities for ongoing research purposes. Ahmad Zewail, the Noble Prize Winner for Chemistry in 1999 is a notable alumnus of the University. It is one of the top universities in Africa.   

  1. University of KwaZulu-Natal – South Africa

The University of KwaZulu-Natal is the result of a 2004 merger of two reputable universities; the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal. Lindiwe Mazibuko, Tatum Keshwar, Zackie Achmat and Sydney Skaife are some of the notable graduates of the universities. It is one of the best Universities in Africa

  1. Ain Shams University – Egypt

Founded in 1950, the University is a higher education institution for that includes a total of 8 campuses and some faculties. The university is the Alma mater of notable television personalities Khaled Abol Naga and Mustafa Hosny.

  1. The American University in Cairo – Egypt

Established in 1919, AUC is a non-profitable, English language, liberal arts university situated in Cairo.  It operates according to American styled learning programs. Rania al-Abdullah, the Queen of Jordan, is a notable Alumnus of AUC among many other famous personalities.

  1. Assiut University – Egypt

Founded in 1957, Assiut University is the first higher education institution in Upper Egypt. It includes three sub-schools and a total of 16 faculties. The university’s notable alumni include Michael Maurice Prince, Mohammed Tayea, and Shukri Mustafa.       

  1. Mohammed V University (Agdal) – Morocco

Established by a royal decree in 1957, it is the first modern university in Morocco. The school is named after Mohammed V, the former King of Morocco who died in 1961. Laila Lalami, university Moroccan novelist, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist is a graduate of this establishment. It is one of the best universities in Africa.

  1. University of the Western Cape – South Africa

UWC is a university that founded in 1959 and is located in Cape Town. The key concerns of the school are equality, equity and access to higher education. It has created many political leaders over the years including Maurus Nekaro and Jose Guterres. It is regarded as one of the top universities in Africa.

  1. University of Johannesburg – South Africa

UJ is the result of a merger between the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), the Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR) and the Soweto and East Rand campuses of Vista University. It is one of the largest residential universities in South Africa. The school has produced many famous sports personalities over the years. These include the famous Olympic field hockey players Bernadette Coston and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs. It is consistently listed among the top 20 universities in Africa.

  1. University of Ouagadougou – Burkina Faso

Founded in 1974, the university plays a critical role in the economy of the country. Although it offers many courses, it is mainly focused on information and communications technology. Monique Ilboudo – a famous activist, is a notable alumnus of the university.

  1. North-West University – South Africa

Established in 2004, this is a merger of Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education and the University of North-West. The school is well respected and regarded to be among the 20 best universities in Africa. Andre Brink, a notable alumnus, was a novelist and a former English professor at the University.

  1. Banha University – Egypt

It is a single campus university founded in 1976. The campus has several notable faculties including veterinary medicine, engineering, commerce, agriculture, and education. In the year 2005, it became independent from its merger institution, Zig-Zag University.

  1. University of Ghana – Ghana

Originally founded as the University College of the Gold Coast in 1948, this university was an affiliate member of University of London until it became an independent university in 1961. Notable alumni of the institution include Anas Anas and George Acquah. It is one of the best universities in West Africa.

  1. Makerere University – Uganda

First established as a technical school in 1922, the University currently includes colleges. MUK is one of the oldest and largest higher education providers in Uganda. Many post-independence leaders of the country emerged from establishment including former Ugandan President Milton Obote.

  1. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – South Africa

It was founded in 2005 by merging three educational institutions together. The main attraction of the university is its ability to attract international students from all over the world. Several sports personalities including Dave Richardson and Andre Vos are the notable alumni of NMMU.

  1. University of Abou Bekr Belkaid – Algeria

Located in Tlemcen, Algeria, this university is one of the very few higher educational institutions in the country. It offers undergraduate courses in fields such as medicine, engineering, humanities, etc. It has a total of six faculties including a Faculty of Law and Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

  1. The German University in Cairo – Egypt

Established through a presidential decree in 2003, GUC is an independent, liberal arts university in Cairo, Egypt. It is a non-profitable educational institution created to general cooperation and welfare between Egypt and Germany. It is one of the best universities in Egypt and a top African university.

  1. Eduardo Mondlane University – Mozambique

Established as a center of higher education in 1962, EMU is the oldest and largest university in Mozambique. The school does not have international or part-time students in any of its faculties. Mia Couto, a renowned author, poet, and Journalist is an alumnus of the University.

  1. Obafemi Awolowo University – Nigeria

Founded in 1961, the school is located in the ancient city of Ile-Ife. The school specializes in various fields of study, includes a total 13 faculties and two colleges. Two Nigerian billionaires; Femi Otedola and Jimoh Ibrahim are graduates of this establishment.

  1. University of La Reunion – Reunion

It is a French owned University that was established in the year 1960. It was the first ever European educational institution created in the area. The university offers bachelor degrees in various fields such as Arts & Humanities and Science & Technology.

  1. University of Khartoum – Sudan

UofK was founded in the year 1902 as the Gordon Memorial College. It is the largest and oldest university in Sudan and thus attracts a lot of domestic students. Two famous novelists Tayeb Salih and Leila Aboulela are graduates of the school.

  1. University of Lagos – Nigeria

Established in Southwestern Nigeria in the year 1962, this is a research university run by the federal government. One of the primary aims of the establishment is to produce a professional and educated domestic workforce who will work towards the economic development of Nigeria.

  1. Zagazig University – Egypt

This educational institution was established 41 years ago in 1974 in the city of Zagazig. It includes three institutes and more than 15 faculties. The university offers, diplomas, bachelor’s, postgraduates, and doctorates as well. It specializes in the field of Science & Technology and Medicine.

  1. Cheikh Anta Diop University – Senegal

Also known as the University of Dakar, this university was established in the year 1957. Over the years, the school has developed significantly as regards enrollment growth. It has produced many notable individuals including the second president of Senegal, Abdou Diouf.

  1. University of Mostaganem – Algeria

Founded in 1978, this university was formally an institution for agricultural technology. It operates through eight faculties including the Faculty of Social Sciences and Natural Science. The Institute of Sports and Physical Education is the only institution within the University.

  1. University of Constantine 1 – Algeria

Formerly known as the University of Mentouri, UMC was established in the year 1969. It is one of the few universities in Algeria which offers a range of educational qualifications and specializes in fields such as Business & Social Sciences.

  1. University of Swaziland – Swaziland

It is the national university of the country. It was established in the year 1982 through a parliament act. The establishment is divided into seven faculties which are located over across three campuses. Notable alumni of the university include famous South African politicians such as Tokyo Sexwale and Naledi Pandor.

  1. Helwan University – Egypt

Founded in 1975, this school includes 21 faculties and 50 research centers. Faculty of Commerce & Business Administration, as well as Faculties of Engineering, are well renowned in Africa.

  1. University of Botswana – Botswana

UB was established in the year 1982 as the first higher education institution in Botswana. The university has two campuses and is divided into six faculties. A famous alumnus of the University is Patricia McFadden, who is an author, Sociology professor, and a radical African feminist.

  1. University of Batna – Algeria

Founded in 1977, this university is one of the largest higher education establishments in North Africa. Even though it was initially created for the faculties of Law and Arabic Literature, the University currently has eight faculties.

  1. Addis Ababa University – Ethiopia

Situated in the capital of Ethiopia, AAU is the state university of the area. It was established in 1950 as a two-year college. The school offers a broad range of degrees through its 13 campuses. Two notable Prime Ministers of Ethiopia namely Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Desalegn are graduates of AAU.

  1. Al Akhawayn University – Morocco

Established two decades ago in the year 1995, this university is technically located in the midst of the Middle Atlas Mountains. It is a public, not-for-profit, coeducational university. The creation of this university was funded and initiated by famous royals in Africa.

  1. University of Algiers – Algeria

Founded over a century ago in 1909, this university was one of the many higher education institutions that were created under the French colonial rule. Apart from its faculties and departments, a major attraction of the university is the 800,000 volume library.

  1. Sudan University of Science and Technology – Sudan

Also known as SUSTech, this is a public university located in the capital of Sudan. Founded in 1932, this school started as a technical and training school of commerce. It is known for its ongoing affiliations with international universities such as Boston University.

  1. University of Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe

Founded in 1952 and Situated in Harare, this is the largest and oldest university in Zimbabwe. The school includes a total of 10 faculties that offer diverse degree and specialized research programs.  It is the alma mater to many politicians including Sir Michael Berridge and Tendai Biti.

  1. Mouloud Mammeri University of Tizi-Ouzou – Algeria

Commonly known as the University of Tizi-Ouzou, this establishment was created in the year 1977 by the then president of Algeria. The university offers bachelors, masters, and doctorates in various fields of study including Humanities, Medicine, and Engineering.

  1. South Valley University – Egypt

Established in the year 1955, this university is specialized in providing teaching research facilities. It is a public higher education institution that allows access to any applicant who meets the entry criteria. It operated through a more than a dozen of faculties and is mainly focused on offering undergraduate courses.

  1. Université Mohammed V – Souissi – Morocco

Founded in 1995, this establishment specializes in providing higher education and research facilities. It is one of the few public universities in Morocco that aims to offer educational opportunities to its students. It includes a combination of 10 faculties and institutions that provide various fields of study.

  1. Cadi Ayyad University – Morocco

Also commonly known as the University of Marrakesh, this institution was established in 1987. Even though it operates through 13 institutions, the university specializes in scientific and engineering research. The university has a notably famous astronomy faculty as well.

  1. Covenant University – Nigeria

Established not so long ago in 2002, this University is a Private Christian higher education institution. It is a member of the Commonwealth Universities and was recently ranked as the best university in Nigeria. Ishaya Bako, a famous film director, and screenwriter, is an honorable alumnus of the school.

  1. Minoufiya University – Egypt

Founded in 1976 this is a recognized public university in Egypt. Apart from its extensive branches of study, the university is also famous for offering various levels of qualifications ranging from certificate diplomas to doctorates.7

According to 4icu.org, these are the best African universities and this ranking of top universities in Africa is by the Berlin Principles for ranking universities.