St. Mary’s University Holds the 19th Conference on PHE in Africa



St. Mary’s University held its 19th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa on September 2, 2021 virtually with a theme “African Higher Education and its Contributions to Self-reliance”. The conference had particular focus on Technology and its Implications to access, equity and quality; Internationalization of Higher Education and its benefits and implications; and Private Higher Education in Africa and the response to development challenges. The conference had distinguished and eminent speakers from around the world who shared their expertise and experiences.


WondwosenTamrat (PhD, Associate Professor), President and Founder of St. Mary’s University, made a welcoming speech. He said, SMU “has added more knowledge and thoughtful deliberations” about private higher education in Africa and contributed to the growth of the sector. He extended his gratitude to His Excellency Prof AfeworkKassu, State Minister for the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, for being able to grace the occasion despite his extremely busy schedule, Excellencies Professors Sarah Agbor and OlusolaOyewole for participating in the event, and its partners Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, African Union Commission, Association of African Universities, International Network for Higher Education in Africa, and Program for Research on Private Higher Education for their valuable contributions toward the success of the conference. 



Professor AfeworkKassu, State Minister, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, gave opening remarks where he recognized St. Mary’s University’s strong commitment to research and the organization of this annual international conference for the last 19 years without interruption. He also thanked all partners who have contributed to the successful organization of the event. He expressed his hope that the conference would transpire thoughts around analyzing Africa’s “poverty conundrum” and seeking solutions that would enable Africa to be self-reliant.

In his opening remarks, Professor OlusolaOyewole, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities, appreciated St. Mary’s University for “championing the collaborations among private higher education institutions in Africa” and for selecting very relevant and timely themes – technology, internationalization and private higher education – for deliberations.


A keynote speech, which framed the series of presentations that followed it, was made by Professor Daniel Levy who gave the audience insights into Private Higher Education in the Developing World. Then six eminent speakers drawn from South Africa, the USA, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Ethiopia made presentations on the role of technology in higher education, internationalization in HE and the challenges associated with it and the role and contributions of Private Higher Education in development from African and global perspectives.



Finally, closing remarks were made by Professor Belay Kassa, Vice Rector, Pan African University, Cameroon, who recognized the fruitful deliberations and expressed his hope that the results of the deliberations will have important contributions to relevant and responsive private higher education in the continent.