Described as the “Mark Zuckerberg” of Nigeria after creating a social network for scholars dubbed “Students Circle”, Gossy Ukanwoke is now on a mission to transform the accessibility of higher learning and education for young people in the continent. In 2012, through his BAU R&D outfit, he founded Beni American University, Nigerian first private online University, which provides executive programs not just in Nigeria but also across the continent.
With a physical location at the Nigerian City of Calabar, BAU provides executive programs for graduates who want to build up their resumes or climb up the corporate ladder. BAU is currently in the process of establishing a fully-fledged University that will cater for students seeking higher education right after school.
Higher education in Africa is under-developed and has not been a priority for the past two decades. Access to higher education for the young people in the continent is the lowest regional average in the world at 5%, just one-fifth of the global average of about 25%.
According to AAI, a one-year increase in average tertiary education levels would raise annual GDP growth in Africa by 0.39 percentage points, and eventually yield up to a 12 percent increase in GDP.
And this is the mission Gossy is pursuing through BAU.
Currently, BAU has over 8000 online students and an additional 300 offsite pursuing business, technology and the humanities with a faculty team of over 100.
The 28-year-old Summa Cum Laude graduate of Management Information Systems from the American University of Cyprus is currently the President of EduTech, an Education Technology Company focused on helping African traditional universities take their on-campus degree programs online through the implementation of the very best of technology, process management, recruitment, and admissions and advisory.
He has received several accolades worldwide including Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015, and The Qatar Foundation Top 50 Global Makers and Shakers of EdTech in June 2016.
Gossy Ukanwoke, who also serves as an advisor to a number of young entrepreneurs and businesses in the region is also an investor in Rhema University, a private University in Nigeria.
Founder360° Magazine had a one on one chat with Gossy on his passion to use technology to push accessibility of affordable and high-quality Education across the continent.
What inspired/drove you to start BAU?
After finishing high School, there was no space for me to join the university despite the fact that I wanted to study in Nigeria. 2M Nigeria students every year are ready to join university but 500,000 fail to join the university. This is the main reason that led me to form BAU. To meet the needs of the students who desire to join the university and do get the opportunity.
Why the choice of online and not just physical? Does the choice of online
We are able to reach as many students as possible across the continent through the online platform. Technology remains the center of our strategy to forge ahead to high-quality education at the most cost-effective way possible.
What is measure the ROI for students who use online education compared to the physical campus?
There is a higher ROI online as against physical because for online learning, lesser investment is required and the result is pretty much the same at the end of learning online or on-campus.
You also have a research division in your university. Tell us about it and its effects on the university.
We continue to innovate and research on the future of learning, future of technology in learning and that is what the Research division focuses on.
What do you think is the future of education in Africa? And how is BAU shaping that future?
Learning will not be for certificates, but for knowledge. Employers will start to care about what you know, more than what certificate you have. This is the vision behind the partnerships in the private sector that BAU is developing/nurturing.
As an entrepreneur, in the EduTech sector, what are some of the challenges you have faced?
There is a limited Policy Framework for EduTech across the continent.
What are some of the lessons that young people can learn from your journey?
If you want to start, start now.
Are there any missed opportunities that you wish to have leveraged on?
Investing in Fora and Andela