Centum in deal with Dubai firm to build schools

Centum chief executive officer James Mworia. PHOTO | FILE
Centum chief executive officer James Mworia. PHOTO | FILE 

Centum Investments has partnered with a Dubai-based PE firm and an international schools chain to launch 20 education centres across Africa.

The consortium made up of Investbridge Capital and Sabis education network, will start by building a school in Nairobi before spreading out to other African countries.

Centum and Investbridge will manage the schools that will admit learners from kindergarten to high school, while Sabis will supply its proprietary curriculum and textbooks.

The partners also plan to take in third-party funds to finance the ventures.

“The consortium plans to allow select investors to participate in the investment, which they believe, over the long-term, will provide very attractive returns,” the consortium said in a statement.


Centum said the upcoming venture is part of its strategy to grow and diversify into more sectors away from its huge commitments in real estate, banking and manufacturing.

“This project translates our vision of becoming active sector sponsors in areas that represent basic needs for the growing population in the region, such as education, healthcare and agriculture,” said Centum CEO James Mworia.

The envisaged 20 schools will be established over the next three to five years, with the cost of building each institution ranging between $20 million (Sh1.9 billion) and $30 million (Sh2.9 billion).

The venture is in tandem with Centum’s increased preference for working with partners in technical and capital-intensive investments.

Investbridge is a Dubai-based corporate advisory and asset management firm with a focus on areas like real estate, education and petrochemicals.

Sabis is a family business headquartered in Beirut whose network of schools has grown to 16 countries including the US, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates with a total of 70,000 learners.

Some of the schools are operated directly by Sabis while others are run in partnership with governments and private investors like the proposed case with Centum and Investbridge.

Others are independent and only pay licence fees to Sabis for the rights to use its curriculum and branding.

“With our innovative proprietary curriculum, cutting-edge IT tools, a non-selective admissions policy and a long-standing commitment to raise education standards around the world, Sabis is positioned to provide top-quality education at scale on the African continent and help all students achieve their full potential,” said the president of Sabis Carl Bistany in a statement.

Centum and its partners will be entering the private education business that is benefiting from growth of the local middle class and expatriates working for multinationals, foreign governments and global institutions like the UN.

Kenya’s rich households and expatriates including ambassadors and executives prefer private schools offering international certifications such as the General Certificate of Education (GCE).

International schools in Kenya include the German School, International School of Kenya, Braeburn, Rosslyn Academy, Kenton and St. Andrews Turi.

Annual school fees range between Sh200,000 to Sh600,000, with some charging up to Sh1.7 million per year for each boarding high school student.