The Minister of Higher Education of Cote d’Ivoire, who hosted the 10th ACE Impact Regional Workshops, reiterated the role of the Africa Centres of Excellence as global and international institutions playing an essential role in educating Africa’s future leaders, innovators, and researchers. In a statement delivered on his behalf during the workshop’s closing ceremony on November 3, 2023, Professor Adama Diawara emphasized that Africa is currently undergoing economic and social transformation, with higher education institutions, particularly ACEs, serving as the heart of sustainable growth. He urged African governments, technical and financial partners, and universities to invest in the ACE model and higher education in general. Professor Diawara stressed the significance of capacity building, infrastructure development, and robust partnerships to enhance and advance the impact of these institutions.
Professor Diawara underscored the need for closer collaboration and constant adaptation to effectively address global challenges and overcome the obstacles hindering progress. Prof. Arsene Kobea, the Director of Cabinet of the Minister of Higher Education representing the Minister of Higher Education and delivering the Minister’s speech, paid a glowing tribute to the Association of African Universities and its Secretary General, Prof. Olusola Oyewole, for the unwavering commitment and dedication to championing the advancement of higher education in Africa.
The ACE Impact team, led by the Task Team Leader – Dr. Ekua Bentil from the World Bank Group, and Dr. Sylvia Mkandawire, Senior Programme Manager from the Association of African Universities, received accolades for their efficient management of the project’s activities. As Prof. Kobea aptly put it, ‘We don’t change the winning team’.
The World Bank Group, French Development Agency (AFD), and the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), were recognised for their pivotal contributions to the ACE Impact project’s success. The workshop’s success was also attributed to the support from various national level institutions in Cote d’Ivoire, including the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Tourism, Interior, Planning and Development, Economy and Finance, Budget, and State Portfolio. The local organising team, led by Prof. Arona Diedhiou and Prof. Kone Tidiani were also acknowledged, as were the Technical Advisors to the Ministers, present at the closing ceremony. The government of Cote d’Ivoire presented project team members, including the Steering Committee Members, Focal Points, and Centre Leaders with traditional souvenirs as a token of appreciation for their monumental contributions.
The address highlighted how peace and stability across Africa serve as a facilitator for realising the fundamental goals and objectives of higher education functions, projects, and institutions.
Reflecting on the Project and Charting the Way Forward
Dr. Ekua Bentil, the ACE Impact Project’s Task Team Leader, provided crucial updates on the project’s progress. Topics covered included the restructuring exercise, disbursement projections, institutional impact, environment and safeguards, and the importance, as well as challenges of accreditation of programmes by the centres. Dr. Bentil called on the Steering Committee Members to duly follow up with their respective country Ministers in finalising key agreements.
ACE Impact centres were encouraged to elevate their celebrations for ACE@10, organising high-level events and bringing the necessary stakeholders, including Ministries, to the table to celebrate 10 years of the ACE programme. They were also advised to leverage the celebrations to showcase the project’s remarkable successes.
Touching on various partnerships currently in the pipeline with potential partners such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the European Union, centres were encouraged to continue to establish quality mutually beneficial partnerships to foster the achievements of their goals. The various networks established under the project were also urged to continue the conversations started under the Morrocco/Tunisia partnerships.
Dr. Bentil expressed her appreciation to the government of Cote d’Ivoire and the centres of Excellence for a highly successful workshop. She assured the centres that ongoing technical support will continue to be provided, announcing the line up of a series of workshops soon to commence.
This workshop reaffirms the ACE Impact Project’s target of nurturing Africa’s next generation of leaders, innovators, and researchers, setting the stage for a brighter and more sustainable future for the continent.