By Kuni Tyesei
As the first phase of the World Bank-funded African Centres of Excellence (ACE) project winds down, centres from 53 universities located in 12 West African countries are set to converge on Abuja to strengthen the implementation and impact of the project.
A joint statement from the National Universities Commission’s (NUC) Deputy Director, Mrs. Adebukola Olatunji; Senior World Bank External Officer, Mr Mansir Nasir; and Association of African Universities’ Millicent Afriyie Kyei, said the 53 universities will converge on Abuja at a four-day biennial workshop from February 25 to 28, 2020 to strengthen the implementation of the ACE impact.
The event, which would be attended by representatives from the ACE centres, World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD), the Association of African Universities (AAU), and NUC officials will 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 nine 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 centres 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.
“Currently, there are 43 ACE, 25 new ones and 18 from ACE I, 5 emerging centres, one top up centre in Social Risk Management and five 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.