China fast emerging as top destination for higher education for African students

China is becoming increasingly popular for African students heading abroad in the pursuit of higher education, with the Germany-based ICEF reporting that the Asian country hosted 74,011 students from 24 African countries in 2017, thanks to the overall growth of 258% from 2011-17.
There appears to be a gradual shift in African students’ higher education choices from the traditional destinations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, or France, toward a variety of emerging economies and middle powers such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia, and increasingly also China. The rising volumes of Chinese investments in the continent have sparked a keen interest among African youths in learning the Chinese language, according to experts, who also point out that this trend is gradually transforming the country into a popular destination and could potentially overtake many European destinations in the coming years.
Africa is the continent with the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population: the current median age is about 19 years, and the population is projected to comprise 23% of the world’s labor force by 2050. And, according to the ICEF, a Germany-based global leader in international education, China is emerging as a major destination for African students. The rate of growth of African students going to China to study abroad grew by 258% between 2011 and 2017, compared with a growth rate of 30% for the US and declines of -2% for France and -24% for the UK. Hence, in less than a decade, China has moved from being the least popular study abroad destination for African students to the most popular for a growing number of sending markets, though France still remains the preference for Africa’s francophone students.