Top 20 Universities in Africa

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Cairo University (image by Faris Knight, CC)



We continue our “Top Universities of” series with Africa. This continent may be underrepresented in the World list, but it also have some World class universities beating some well known USAian, English and German universities. We hope that the progress of the African universities will continue and the continent will claim its fair share in the World’s elite universities…

It is a South Africa & Egypt Affair…

The ‘Best of Africa’ list reads very much like the ‘Best of the World’. Especially the top half of the ‘Best of the World’ t is dominated by USA with challenge from English universities.  The ‘Best of Africa’ list is similar. South Africa is the USA of Africa.  Only in the top 10 of the list, there are 6 South African universities! And the top 4 are solely from South Africa!

South or Solid Africa?

Such is the solid performance of South Africa that, we had to have a “Top 20” list for Africa, instead of our usual “Top 10” in order to have some variety in the list! Yet South Africa went on taking up 10 of the 20 spots….

If the South Africa is the “USA of the Africa”, “England of the continent” is Egypt which gives the only challenge to South African domination. Egypt manages to enter the list with 5 universities. With Cairo University in the respectable 5th position and 3 universities in the top 10, Egypt is a true challenger.

Only 7 Countries…

It is interesting that the only other country with a university in the top 10 of the list Uganda with Makerere University. Morocco, Tunisia, Malawi and Kenya join the list after the 15th position each with one university. In total, Top 20 is populated by universities from just 7 countries from the continent of Africa…


Here are the Top 20 Best Universities in Africa, based on URAP Ranking’s latest (2014-2015) statistics:


1- University of Cape Town    URAP World rank: 249

The best of Africa comes from South Africa. With a URAP World rank of 249, it is truly World-class university beating well known USAian and European universities like University of California Riverside, University College Dublin, Florida State University, University of Leicester and many others.

University of Cape Town (image by Adrian Frith, CC)


2- University of the Witwaterstrand (Wits University)    URAP World rank: 324

The second position in this Best-pf-Africa list is taken by another World-class university from South Africa. The university has its roots in the mining industry, as do Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand in general. Founded in 1896 as the South African School of Mines. The university has an enrolment of aroud 31 thousand students with a whopping 30% follow postgraduate studies.


The Wits University Great Hall (image by “Samuella99”, CC)


3- University of Kwazulu Natal    URAP World rank: 249

UKZN describes itself as “a truly South African university that is academically excellent, innovative in research, critically engaged with society and demographically representative, redressing the disadvantages, inequities and imbalances of the past”. The university has five campuses all located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and counts almost 40 thousand students of which 1/10 are of postgraduate studies!

University of KwaZulu-Natal (image by Elefuntboy CC)


4- Universiteit Stellenbosch (Stellenbosch University) URAP World rank: 420

This South African university prides itself for designing and manufacturing Africa’s first microsatellite, SUNSAT, launched in 1999. It is also the first African university to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

Universiteit Stellenbosch has quite a high number of postgraduate students. One-third of its almost 30 thousand students are postgraduate students!

Universiteit Stellenbosch (image by LouriePieterse,CC)


5- Cairo University    URAP World rank: 434

The first non-South African university making it to the Best-of-Africa list, Cairo University boasts 280.000 students. Yes two-hundred-eighty-thousand!

Founded in 1908, the university has over 12 thousand academic staff and international students in thousands…

With a URAP World rank of 434, Cairo University beats the German universities like Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg, University of Hannover, University of Stuttgart and fomous names like France’s Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS) Paris or China’s Shanghai University.


Cairo University Central Library (image by Faris knight, CC)
Cairo University Central Library (image by Faris knight, CC)


6- University of Pretoria   URAP World rank: 482

Yest another South African university in the Best-of-Africa ranks. University of Pretoria is organised into nine faculties and a business school. According to South Africa Department of Education’s benchmark, the university has produced more research outputs every year than any other university in the country. The postgraduate to total students ratio is an impressive 1/4…

University of Pretoria main administrative bulding (image by Mike-Prins, CC)


7- Ain Shams University     URAP World rank: 638

Another Egyptian university crashing into the South African party! Ain Shams University has an impressive number of students: 170.000!

Ain Shams University main gate (image by Faris knight, CC)


8- University of Johannesburg    URAP World rank:704

University of Johannesburg of restores the South African order in this list of Best-of-Africa. When you forget for a moment the likes of Cairo University, UJ educates a huge numbers of students; almost 50.000!


University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park Campus (image by Aurobindo Ogra, CC)


9- Makerere University    URAP World rank:825

The first non-South African and non-Egyptian university making into the Best-of-Africa list is from Uganda. Makerere University.

A university of leaders: The university prides itself for being the home to many post-independence African leaders, including former Ugandan president Milton Obote, late Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, rormer Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, current president of the DRC Joseph Kabila and the former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

Makerere University, (image by sarahemcc, CC)


10- Jamiat El Iskandariya (Alexandria University)    URAP World rank:889

Another university from Egypt, Jamiat El Iskandariya has almost 150.000 students.  The university counts among its alumni the 1999 Nobel prize winner in Chemistry: Ahmet Zewail.

Jamiat El Iskandariya, Faculty of Engineering (image by Faris knight)


11- North West University – South Africa    URAP World rank:915

Though formed as recent as in 2004, the university is outcome of three institutions which trace their origins to 1860s..The North West University has almost 65 thousand students with a postgraduate ratio of 1/4…

North-West University Potchefstroom campus. (image by ToonT, CC)


12- Jamiat Asliyut (Assiut University)    URAP World rank:920

Yes, another Egyptian. Not a bad performace for a relatively new university (founded only in 1857) to make into the Best-of-Africa list…

Jamiat Asliyut (image by Tour Mana Ali, CC)
Jamiat Asliyut (image by Tour Mana Ali, CC)


13- Jamiat El Mansura (Mansoura University)    URAP World rank:949

This Egyptian university was founded in 1962 as “East Delta University” but later on renamed to Mansura University in 1973.

Jamiat El Mansura (image by 3mrlizm, CC)


14- University of the Western Cape    URAP World rank:954

The flip-flop of South-Africa – Egypt continues: This South African university is proud of its history of creative struggle against oppression, discrimination of Apartheid regime. Started as a “bush college”, it is now one of the best South African universities and has around 15 thusand students…

University of the Western Cape (image by Danmichaelo, CC)


15- University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad    URAP World rank:1026

After South Africa, Egypt and Uganda, finally a university from a different country: Morocco.  Despite the most common language in Morocco being Arabic, strange enough, the language of education at this university is in French language. Probably a remnant of French invasion.

Cadi Ayyad prides itself with discovering 2 comets one of which is called, yes you guessed it, ‘Cadi Ayyad’.

University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad
University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad


16- Tunis El Manar University     URAP World rank:1085

The gates are open! There comes Tunisia. Despite being founded only in year 2000, Tunis El Manar University manages to enter the list of ‘Best-of-Africa’ at 16th position.

Tunis El Manar has a URAP ranking of 1085 in the world.

Tunis El Manar University. (image by Michael Sean Gallagher)


17- Rhodes University    URAP World rank:1087

Founded in 1904, Rhodes University has an enrolment of over 7,000 students with around 1600 of them being postgraduate students.

Rhodes University (image by Rossvdlinde, CC)


18- University of the Free State    URAP World rank:1112

This South African university offers classes in both Afrikaans and English. Its alumni includes the Apartheid-era’s ruthless Prime Minister P.W. Botha, as well as the anti-apartheid activist and lawyer Bram Fischer (who made a name defending anti-apartheid figures, such as Nelson Mandela.


University of Free State (image by Carla de Villiers, CC)


19- University of Malawi    URAP World rank:1161

The University of Malawi is established in 1964 and composed of five constituent colleges located in Zomba, Blantyre, and Lilongwe in Malawi.

University of Malawi (image by hackerfriendly, CC)


20- University of Nairobi    URAP World rank:1169

The University of Nairobi (UoN) is the largest university in Kenya with almost 60.000 students of which around 13.000 pursue postgraduate degrees. The university’s alumni reads like ‘Who is who’ in Kenyan government.

University of Nairobi (image by Kenyaverification, CC)



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