Home News Top 10 Oldest Big Universities in Africa (2022)

Top 10 Oldest Big Universities in Africa (2022)

What are the oldest universities in Africa? and what year were they established?

Africa is home to some of the world’s oldest universities. The University of Timbuktu, for example, was established in the medieval era, and the University of Al-Qarawiyyin in Morocco is said to be the oldest continually operating university in the world. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the oldest universities in Africa and their contributions to the continent’s rich history.

List of the top 10 oldest universities in Africa

1. University of Al-Karaouine (859 AD)

University of Al-Karaouine - oldest Universities in Africa

The first on the list of the oldest universities in Africa is the University of Al-Karaouine.

Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a prosperous merchant by the name of Mohammed Al-Fihri, who established the University of Al-Karaouine or Al-Qarawiyyin in 859, along with a related madrasa. It is Africa’s first university.


It is regarded as the oldest continually operating institution of higher learning in the world and one of the major spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the University of Al-Karaouine as the oldest continually running university in the world that also awards degrees.

Leo Africanus, the Jewish philosopher Maimonides, and the geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi are just a few of the university’s renowned former students.

2. Al-Azhar University (972 AD)

Al-Azhar University - oldest Universities in Africa

The University of Al-Azhar, sometimes known as “Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university,” is the oldest degree-granting institution in Egypt.


It has ties to the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, the Islamic capital. Shiite jurisprudence text “Al-Ikhtisar” was being taught at Al-Azhar by Chief Justice Abul Hasan Ali ibn Al-Norman in October 975 AD, when Ramadan studies had started.

It was founded by the Fatimids as a center of Islamic learning in 970 or 972; there, students studied the Qur’an and Islamic law in-depth, as well as logic, grammar, rhetoric, and lunar phase calculation.

It was one of the first organizations in the world and the only one in the Arabic-speaking region to continue as a modern university with a secular curriculum.

It is currently the most significant center in the world for Islamic and Arabic studies. Non-religious studies were added to its curriculum in 1961.

It is therefore considered to have become a modern university in that year (1961).


Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa studied Business at Al-Azhar.

3. Fourah Bay College – University of Sierra Leone (1827)

Fourah Bay College – University of Sierra Leone - oldest Universities in Africa

Fourah Bay College is the oldest higher education institution in West Africa, having been founded in 1827. The college is part of the University of Sierra Leone, and is located in the capital city of Freetown.

Fourah Bay College has a long and proud history, and has produced many notable alumni, including the current President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio.

The institution may be proud of a number of significant Sierra Leonean officials and several Ghanaians who were instrumental in the independence of Ghana (Kojo Botsio, Casely Hayford).


4. University of Cape Town (1829)

University of Cape Town – University of Sierra Leone - oldest Universities in Africa

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is a leading African university located in Cape Town, South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College and is now one of the continent’s top research and teaching institutions. With a commitment to excellence in research, teaching, and service, UCT is an institution of choice for students from all over the world.

UCT was also just voted the top university in Africa for graduate employability. Among the prominent graduates are Ralph Bunche, Max Theiler, Allan McLeod Cormack, Aaron Klug, and Professor Emeritus J. M. Coetzee. For their great achievements in their respective fields, they have all received Nobel Prizes.

5. Cairo University (1908)

Cairo University – oldest Universities in Africa

Cairo University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Egypt. Founded in 1908, it is the country’s largest university, with over 200,000 students.


Cairo University is a research-intensive institution, with over 4,000 faculty members and over 2,000 research staff. The university has nine campuses, including six in Cairo, one in Alex

Among the notable graduates of Cairo University are Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Saddam Hussein, Mohamed Morsi, Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, and Taher Elgamal, who created the ElGamal encryption system and is known as the “Father of SSL.”

6. University of Algiers (1909)

University of Algiers- oldest Universities in Africa

The University of Algiers (UA) is a public university located in Algiers, Algeria. Founded in 1909, UA is the oldest and largest university in Algeria.

With over 180,000 students, UA is one of the largest universities in Africa. The university is organized into 14 faculties and schools.


It is called Mother University, and it is situated in Algiers, the country of Algeria.

Among the well-known alumni of the University of Algiers are Albert Camus, Elias Zerhouni, and Lakhdar Brahimi.

7. Makerere University (1922)

Makerere University - oldest Universities in Africa

Makerere University is a public research university in Kampala, Uganda. It was established in 1922 as a technical school and became a university in 1970.

Makerere is one of the oldest and largest universities in Uganda and the region. The university has 13 faculties and institutes, which offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.


Makerere University now has nine colleges and one school, serving roughly 36,000 undergraduate students and 4,000 postgraduate student programs.

Several political leaders who served their nation, Uganda, and other African leaders, including Mwai Kibaki, Joseph Kabila, Benjamin Mkapa, and Julius Nyerere, are alumni of Makerere University.

8. University of Ghana (1948)

University of Ghana - oldest Universities in Africa

The University of Ghana is the oldest and largest university in Ghana, with a student population of over 30,000. It is located in the capital city of Accra and offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

It is a world-class university, and has been ranked as one of the top universities in Africa.

Initially, emphasis was placed on the humanities, social sciences, law, basic sciences, agriculture, and medicine. As part of a nationwide drive to modernize education, the university’s curriculum was expanded to include more technologically focused and vocational courses as well as postgraduate studies.

As one of the few colleges on the African continent to provide degrees in nuclear physics and nuclear engineering, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission also maintains a graduate school of nuclear and allied sciences.

Akua Kuenyehia, Komla Dumor, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, and other notable graduates include three Ghanaian the presidents.

9. University of Ibadan (1948)

University of Ibadan - oldest Universities in Africa

The University of Ibadan is a world-renowned institution of higher learning located in Ibadan, Nigeria. Founded in 1948, the university has a long tradition of academic excellence and is committed to providing quality education to its students.

With over 40,000 students, the university is one of the largest and the oldest in Africa. The University of Ibadan offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, and is a leading research institution in the region.

Wole Soyinka, a recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, is one of the most well-known alumni at Unibadan.

10. University of Zimbabwe (1952)

University of Zimbabwe- oldest Universities in Africa

The University of Zimbabwe is one of the premier institutions of higher learning in Africa. Founded in 1952, the University of Zimbabwe has a long tradition of excellence in teaching and research.

The university is committed to providing a world-class education to its students and preparing them for leadership roles in a global society.

The University of Zimbabwe’s main campus is situated in northern Harare’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

The Medical School campus in Parirenyatwa Hospital in the heart of Harare is the main satellite campus. The College of Health Sciences is located there.


Here is a summary list of the top 10 oldest universities in Africa.

  1. University of Al-Karaouine
  2. Al-Azhar University
  3. Fourah Bay College – University of Sierra Leone
  4. University of Cape Town
  5. Cairo University
  6. University of Algiers
  7. Makerere University
  8. University of Ghana
  9. University of Ibadan
  10. University of Zimbabwe