Global Education Management Systems Ltd.(GEMS) will invest $650 million in to emerging markets, including in Africa and the Middle East, over the next five years, in a global expansion push.

The Dubai-based company currently operates private schools in ten countries, and plans to grow its base to spread across between 25 and 40 countries in the next five years, in an intensive investment and expansion push.

“In terms of our next three to five years in terms of the global expansion… we are looking at investing anywhere between $550m and $650m,” GEMS Group Executive Director Dino Varkey told Arabian Business.

“We are of course looking at expanding globally,” he added. “Today, we operate in ten countries from the US to China [and] I envisage that over the next three to five years we’ll look to be in anywhere between 25 to 40 countries,” he disclosed.

GEMS opened its first private school in Kenya this year, and plans intensive growth across the African continent as part of its investment scheme, as demand for private schooling increases on the continent.  The company already plans to launch schools in Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

Explaining the focus on Africa in terms of the company’s expansion plans, Varkey says: “You are talking about the second fastest growing region over the last decade…Over 30m new households have joined the consumer class so obviously [there is] a fast rising middle class that’s highly ambitious and aspirational in terms of their children’s education.”

The schools-operator also has plans for the North Africa region, with potential new school locations including Egypt, Libya and Morocco.

Noting plans to expand in other emerging markets, including the Middle East region, Varkey considered that while the school network may achieve significant success in the Saudi Arabia and Qatar markets, expectations for other Middle Eastern countries – such as Kuwait and Oman – will be initially low key.

As such, the Group Executive Director concluded: “Africa, Egypt, Libya, Morocco are key for us.”


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