ACEs Meet to Strengthen Impact on African Varsities

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The 53 Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACEs) from universities in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, will from February 25-28, converge on Abuja, Nigeria for the ACE biannual workshop.

The opening ceremony and workshop sessions will hold at the Sheraton Hotel, while the closing ceremony will be at the headquarters of the National Universities Commission (NUC).

Also expected at the workshop are representatives of the World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD), Association of African Universities (AAU), and the National Universities Commission (NUC), Nigeria.

According to a statement jointly signed by the Communications Officers in charge of the ACE project for the World Bank, Mansir Nasir and Aby Toure; for the Association of African Universities, Millicent Afriyie Kyei; and for National Universities Commission, Adebukola Olatunji, the event will provide the platform for the ACEs to exchange information on their respective programmes; build networks and forge partnerships to ensure the successful implementation of the project. Opportunities will also be offered to the media to interact with the ACEs, discover their programmes and results achieved, as well as their perspectives to make higher education more relevant to Africa’s development.

The workshop will also mark the closing of the first phase of the ACE Project (ACE I) and to strengthen the implementation of ACE Impact.
The ACE Project is a World Bank initiative, in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support higher education institutions in specialising in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), agriculture, and health. It is the first World Bank project aimed at the capacity building of higher education institutions in Africa.

The first phase (ACE I) was launched in 2014 with 22 centres of excellence in nine West and Central African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. The project aims to promote regional specialisation 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. 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 (AFD), in collaboration with the African governments, launched the ACE Impact Project in 2018 to strengthen postgraduate training and applied research in existing fields and support new fields that are essential for Africa’s economic growth.

There are 43 ACEs (25 new ones and 18 from ACE I); five 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.