This issue of the African Journal of Rural Development (the June 2017 Issue-Vol.2 (2)) features 16 articles that demonstrate the evolving role of higher education institutions (HEI’s), particularly universities in Africa. The evolution of HEI’s in Africa highlights a few striking examples that existed prior to colonial era. Nonetheless, most HEI’s in Africa are situated in the legacy of colonial relations. In the post independence arrangement, HEI’s on the continent have been variously tasked with endogenous mandates in support of building human capacity in order to address local, national and at times regional issues. It is envisaged that unemployment in Africa can be solved by placing greater emphasis on entrepreneurship education in agriculture and its contribution to rural development using models similar to the EARTH University approach as presented in the lead paper. The remaining 15 articles present issues of policy engagements, adoption of best practice and knowledge generation to provide technological solutions to pressing challenges such as clean seed, declining soil fertility, etc which are examples among the diversity of research problems addressed by HEI’s in Africa. The evolution since colonial pre-and- colonial times depicts a shift from ancient universities, and/or HEI’s that were largely dealing with vocational training to distinguished institutions that are in addition to vocational education, taking on more roles and increasingly being classified variously as modern, research-intense, community-based, entrepreneurial universities, etc. In this editorial, we trace the evolution of HEI’s in Africa and its linkage to socio-economic development. The historical account is consistent and clearly indicates that HEI’s have always positioned and repositioned to serve needs of the society within the contemporary context.