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Charter Cities Institute and The African School of Economics Expand Partnership as ASE Expands to Zanzibar

Leading Pan-African University To Launch First East African Location with Assistance from CCI

African School of Economics, the Pan-African university educating and training Africa’s next generation of scholars, researchers, policymakers, and entrepreneurs, has officially announced its expansion to Zanzibar. It marks the university’s first location in East Africa, with plans for a state-of-the-art campus for African students and world-class faculty. ASE will also become the latest high-profile addition to the Silicon Zanzibar initiative as it kickstarts the next phase of its expansion plan to become the go-to Pan-African center of innovation and technological progress. The Charter Cities Institute, a long-time partner of ASE, will provide extensive assistance in ASE’s expansion to Zanzibar, as documented in a recently executed Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations.   

ASE, working also in partnership with renowned educational institutions, including Princeton University and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, will deliver graduate and undergraduate degree programs focused on STEM and social science training through three departments – the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the Engineering School. Strategically, it is the first ASE campus to have a focus on technology, establishing itself as the foundation of the budding tech ecosystem in Silicon Zanzibar, a national initiative to which CCI is a key partner. 

CCI and ASE, which already collaborate on general knowledge sharing and policy and consulting collaborations, will also work together on the following activities: (1) establishment of a charter city and ASE campus in Fumba Town, Zanzibar; (2) establishment of a charter city and ASE campus in Itana, Nigeria; and (3) exploration of charter city opportunities which can host additional ASE campuses.

Speaking on the launch of ASE’s new campus, Professor Leonard Wantchekon, Founder and President at ASE, says “Since launching in 2014, the vision for ASE has always been to establish a Pan-African system of universities and with our first launch in East Africa, it was vital we selected an environment which strongly reflected our ethos. Through its Silicon Zanzibar initiative, Zanzibar has made impressive headway in this regard by establishing policies which heavily encourage frontier innovation. Coupled with its strong entrepreneurial spirit and close proximity to a number of well-regarded East African universities, we’re fully convinced these qualities make Zanzibar the ideal destination to spearhead the next chapter of our Pan-African expansion. Working with our longtime partner, the Charter Cities Institute, will super-charge these efforts in Zanzibar and throughout the continent.” 

Added Kurtis Lockhart, Executive Director of CCI, “Throughout history high-quality universities have not only attracted young, ambitious, human capital talent, but they’ve also been phenomenal anchors for the world’s most dynamic cities. As former Senator Daniel Moynihan said, ‘the way to create a great city is to create a great university and wait 50 years.’ We agree, and CCI couldn’t be more excited about helping in the setup of the new university campus and in the expansion of Fumba Town into a fully-fledged charter city. And given ASE’s pan-African vision, Zanzibar is just the beginning.”

Daniel Yu, Founder and CEO of Wasoko, Africa’s largest B2B e-commerce network and the official private sector ambassador for Silicon Zanzibar, stated “ASE’s presence in Zanzibar will undoubtedly have a transformative impact in the development of a crucial pipeline of tech talent for the island and beyond. We look forward to exploring areas of collaboration alongside them in the near future.”

To support the upcoming launch, ASE will also accelerate its current recruitment drive to attract elite faculty members and the best students from across the continent and the world, providing the highest standard of learning to ensure African students can compete on a global stage. CCI will support the launch in part via research collaborations, setting up and jointly operating research institutes, and delivering undergraduate coursework, graduate coursework, and other educational training in order to cultivate urban development talent, urban planners, and urban governance leaders across Africa. The first of these groundbreaking research institutes is the new ASE Zanzibar campus at Fumba Town.

Minister of Education for Zanzibar, The Honourable Minister Lela Mussa, said “Zanzibar is pursuing education transformation to achieve its national development vision. We are promoting international universities and higher learning institutions to establish campuses here in the isles to support human capital development.”

Courses are scheduled to commence at ASE Zanzibar in late 2024.

For more information about the CCI-ASE partnership or other matters referenced herein, contact CCI’s Head of Communications, Michael Holstein ([email protected]).  


About the Charter Cities Institute  

The Charter Cities Institute empowers new cities with better governance to lift tens of millions of people out of poverty. It was founded on the idea that a fresh approach was necessary to tackle humanity’s most pressing challenges: global poverty, rapid urbanization, and conflict and migration caused by poverty, war, and climate change. Charter cities—new cities granted a special jurisdiction to create a new governance system—are that solution. CCI is building the ecosystem for charter cities by: creating legal, regulatory, and planning frameworks needed for rapid urban growth; advising and connecting key stakeholders including governments, new city developers, and multilateral institutions; and, influencing the global agenda through research and partnerships.

About the African School of Economics

Launched in Benin in 2014, ASE was founded to address the twin challenges of a lack of African representation at the forefront of cutting-edge research as well as limited training of top-tier talent on the continent. With over 2,000 students and alumni, 12+ degree programs and four campuses across its locations of Benin, Côte D’Ivoire, Nigeria and Zanzibar, it ranks as one of Africa’s leading universities in terms of research quality, the caliber of faculty and students as well as its superb record of graduate placements. For the past 7 years, over 15% of ASE graduates have been placed in top global PhD programs at institutions including Princeton, Harvard University, Penn State University and the University of Wisconsin. 75% of graduates have research, government, and private sector positions both in global and regional offices at UNDP, the Central Bank of West African States, the governments of Togo, Benin, and Cameroon, as well as a Junior faculty position at New York University.

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