Access Bank CEO Wigwe to build $500m university in Rivers

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

Co-founder of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, is constructing a $500 million eponymous institution in his homeland of Rivers State, an oil-rich region of Nigeria.

Wigwe told Bloomberg that undergraduate courses in management, information technology, science and engineering, and the creative arts will be available at Wigwe University.

Wigwe is taking a cue from affluent Nigerians such as former vice president Atiku Abubakar by going into higher education, and with the approval of the university’s licence by the Nigeria University Commission in June, there are now 238 universities in Nigeria, with 79 being state-run and 147 private.

With 1,400 students anticipated to enrol in the upcoming academic year, Wigwe is placing his bets on the institution’s ability to use technology to provide education on par with those of US and UK universities, where he intends to hire thirty per cent of the teaching staff.

According to Wigwe’s interview with BusinessDay, the university has constructed a power plant to provide electricity, and it will employ artificial intelligence and holograms to guarantee a hybrid system for students. However, like with other private institutions, it is pricey for one of the world’s poorest countries. A student at Wigwe University will pay between $12,500 and 3.5 million naira ($4,171) per year in tuition.

With decades of experience in the banking industry, Wigwe also plans to train the “next set of leaders in banking” and has lined up prominent businessmen, such as Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, to teach at the university.

Professor Miles Davis, a former president of a private university in the United States, will serve as the vice chancellor of Wigw University. The deputy vice-chancellor of academics will be Professor Dal Didia, a former professor of economics at Jackson State University, and the deputy vice chancellor of administration will be Professor Nelson Uzoechi-Uzoma Alino, a former accounting professor at Quinnipiac University.

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