Research in African Universities is growing and its quality, developing. An African Research Universities Alliance was formed earlier this year and the focus of the group is to improve research and develop the continent’s future. The universities can use their research findings to influence government policies as well as perhaps encouraging countries to take collective action and pursue recommended policies for mutual benefit and common good. With research at the heart of development, we’ve picked out some of the best universities on the continent for our top ten.

So, in no particular order, let’s see who made the top 10…

Makerere University is Uganda’s oldest University. With the support of Sida/SAREC, Makerere University is pursuing several research projects in the Faculties of Social Sciences, Agriculture, Technology and Medicine.   These research topics are crucial areas that could eventually influence government policies, based on the research findings.  The agriculture department are doing on-going research on sweet potatoe vines as fodder for livestock. Yum, this deserves first place.

University of Lagos is one of Nigeria’s most prominent universities, specialising in research. With a growing 45,000 student population, this University is where it’s at. The various university activities have led it to be one of the most prominent in the country, making it a centre for academic research. The University does research on arts, business administration, education, engineering, environmental sciences, law and medicine. The University of Lagos does an annual competition, awarding the best research, which is a great way to encourage researchers.

University of Ibadan is Nigeria’s oldest university and is located in Western Nigeria.  The university has various faculties from Agriculture and forestry to dentistry and technology. The university has created a research foundation to advance the research and slogan is ‘to foster leading edge research and nurture talents among staff’. The foundation has shown to be an efficient way to maximise the research efforts. Not to mention this slogan alone deserves to be on the top 10, no?

The University of Ghana is Ghana’s oldest and largest University, with a growing student population of 40,000 students. The University of Ghana is recognised for its research programme in global environmental issues, particularly in climate change issues, essential for African countries. Climate change is bound to continue to affect agricultural production and productivity, which will affect the livelihoods of particularly the rural communities in the Sub-Saharan African countries. Social Policy Analysis is another key research area that the University is engaged in. Evidence-based information and analysis is critical for developing and monitoring the impact of social policies. Several of the University’s research outputs have been found to be useful by the country’s public and private sector. Centre for Migration research focus on the root causes of internal displacement and migration. Research on the interlinked causes of poverty, food insecurity, conflict and unemployment is improving policy development and programmes that tackle migration.

The University of Nairobi – The University of East Africa was established in 1963, serving Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In 1970 the university split into three independent Universities: University of Nairobi, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and University of Makerere in Uganda. The University of Nairobi is one of Kenya’s oldest and largest universities with a student population of 60,000 students. The University’s Business Research Centre, encourages and conducts research for national and international business firms. This research method is positive, harnessing long term business strategy for the country. That’s right, empowering local firms.

University of Dar es Salaam, is one of Tanzania’s leading Universities, with roughly 20,000 students.  The University actively encourages collaborative research, both external with other universities and internal with different departments within the University. This is demonstrated in the rise of collaborative research over the years. The University’s Centre for Study of Forced Migration (CSFM) in conjunction with the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), Georgetown University in Washington DC, Brookings Institution in Washington DC, Refugees Studies Centre, University of Oxford and the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies in Colombo, Sri Lanka is carrying out a research project titled “Complex forced migration Emergencies: Towards a Humanitarian Regime”. Sounds intense but nevertheless I’m sure we can all agree, vital for an understanding on the roots of migration.

University of Rwanda was formed through the merger of higher education institution; the largest was what was formally known as the National University of Rwanda. The University’s mission to become a world class institution that empowers national, social and economic transformation through active participation is the right approach to developing domestic skills. The College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (CAVM) launched the first ever Research exhibition through the support of the UR-Sweden Program, earlier this year.

University of Cape Town is a public research University in Cape Town, South Africa, dating back to 1829. The University has an effective research office that provides support by building new research capacities and sustaining the current research. Other universities may squint but the Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU) ranked the UCT as the highest ranking South African and African University. UCT’S African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDV) was initiated in 2011 as a response to climate change. As a result there have been various research outputs including: Nyamwanza, A. 2014, Bridging Policy and practice for livelihood resilience in rural Africa: Lessons from the mid-Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. Journal of Rural and Community Development, 9(4): 23-33.

University of Pretoria is a public research university in Pretoria and was established in 1908. The University research areas focus on accounting, economics and industrial and organisation psychology. These areas are essential for understanding the economy and perhaps influencing better economic policies. The University edits five research journals including: The South African journal of Economic and Management Sciences (SAJEMS), The journal for Public Administration, The Meditari Accounting Journal in the Department of Accounting, South African Journal for Entrepreneurship and Small Business and the African Journal of Public Affairs (AJPA). These journals give young researchers a head start in publishing articles.

And last but not least….

Cheikh Anta Diop University also known as the University of Dakar is located in Dakar, Senegal. It is named after Senegalese physician and historian Cheikh Anta Diop and has over 60,000 students. The University has an excellent reputation as one of the top research institutions in West Africa. The University has a research-oriented faculty in the Department of Infectious Disease. The University also has a high quality laboratory facilities for the study of HIV,TB and malaria where students develop their research. The main research area focused in the Faculties of Medicines and Science is Malaria. The department has links with international organisations including: WHO, USAID, UNICEF, IRD and LSHTM.