Nigeria joins African Virtual University

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has become the latest member of the African Virtual University, the pan-African intergovernmental organisation mandated to increase access to higher education through online and distance learning.

The West African country signed the charter of the African Virtual University, or AVU, at a ceremony held in Abuja in August, bringing the total number of member countries to 18.

“I would like to thank the Nigerian government for signing the charter and joining the AVU as a member state,” said Dr Bakary Diallo, rector of the AVU, during the signing of the charter with Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'i, Nigeria’s education minister.

“This is a testimony to the confidence the Nigerian government has in the AVU’s ability to deliver tertiary education on the continent through information and communication technologies.”

Nigeria, which has one of the largest numbers of universities on the continent, was a keen supporter of the AVU even when it was not a member country.

Its Technical Cooperation Fund donated US$95,000 to the university in January 2012, to help strengthen the delivery of mathematics and science teacher programmes to students.

Nigeria is also one of 21 countries benefiting from the AVU’s US$15 million fund known as the Multinational Support Project, financed by the African Development Bank.

By becoming an AVU member state, Nigeria joins Kenya, which hosts the headquarters of the university, and Senegal, which hosts its West Africa regional office.

Other member states are Benin, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania.

Founded in 1997, the AVU prides itself on having offered training to more than 43,000 students in more than 30 countries, establishing the largest network of distance and e-learning institutions in Africa, and delivering courses in English, French and Portuguese.

The African Union Commission and the World Bank, which founded the university, remain its main supporters.