Centres of excellence: 53 African varsities converge on Abuja on project impact

No fewer than 53 universities located in 12 West African countries will converge on Abuja to brainstorm on how to strengthen the implementation and impact of the world Bank-funded African Centres of Excellence (ACE).

A joint statement by Mrs. Adebukola Olatunji of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Senior World Bank External Officer, Mr Mansir Nasir, and Association of African Universities’ Millicent Afriyie Kyei, said this becomes imperative as the first phase of the programme winds down.

The statement said the 53 universities would converge Abuja for a 4-day biennial workshop beginning from Tuesday.

The event which would be attended by representatives from the ACE centres, World Bank, the French Development Agency, FAD, the Association of African Universities, AAU, and NUC officials would afford the institutions the opportunity to exchange information on their respective programmes, build networks and forge partnerships to ensure the successful implementation of the project.

ACE, a World Bank initiative was first launched in 2014 with 22 Centres in 9 West and Central African countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo, while the second phase, ACE II, was launched in East and Southern Africa with 24 centers across Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

“Based on the initial successes, the World Bank and the French Development Agency in collaboration with African governments, launched the ACE Impact Project in 2018 to strengthen post-graduate training and applied research in existing fields and support new fields that are essential for Africa’s economic growth.

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“Currently, there are 43 ACE, 25 new ones and 18 from ACE I, 5 emerging centers, 1 top-up centre in social risk management and 5 colleges and schools of engineering.

“The new areas include sustainable cities; sustainable power and energy; social sciences and education; transport; population health and policy; herbal medicine development and regulatory sciences; public health; applied informatics and communication; and pastoral production,” the statement said.

The ACE project is aimed at promoting regional specialization among participating universities in areas that address specific common regional development challenges.

It also aims to strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver high-quality training and applied research as well as meet the demand for skills required for Africa’s development.

It is the first World Bank project aimed at the capacity building of higher education institutions in Africa, established in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support specialization in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, Agriculture, and Health.

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