A Transformational Journey: Elevating African Higher Education through ACE Impact Project

The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) continues to make impressive strides toward its mission of enhancing higher education in Africa. As part of its ongoing commitment to realizing project objectives, the ACE Impact Project conducts bi-annual assessments of its progress during its regional workshops, using Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) to measure various key areas, including student enrollment, program accreditation, resource mobilization, research publication, development impact, entrepreneurship, and innovation. These assessments are critical in evaluating the project’s overall impact and ensuring that it aligns with its goals. 

During the 10th ACE Impact Regional Workshop in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, various presentations were made on October 31, 2023, to assess the centres progress in line with the project’s overarching goal of transforming higher education in Africa to deliver high-quality graduates, bridge the skill gap, and foster quality research and innovative approaches to address the region’s developmental challenges. 

Remarkable Progress and Achievements 

During the workshop, Dr. Sylvia Mkandawire, Senior Manager of the ACE Impact Project, highlighted the substantial progress made by the project. Notable achievements included the enrollment of 8,231 MSc and 2,828 PhD students, with 8,491 of them being female and 8,182 regional students. Additionally, 31 programs received international accreditation, and an impressive $75 million was raised in externally generated revenue by the centers.  

Dr. Sylvia Mkanadawire, Senior Program Manager, ACE Impact- AAU

She further reported on centers’ efforts in pioneering innovations to tackle development challenges. One of the standout features of the ACE Impact Project is its commitment to addressing developmental challenges through innovation. It was observed that the centers have assumed a pioneering role in developing creative and innovative solutions to address challenges in critical priority areas such as agriculture, STEM, and environmental.  

Examples include CEFTER’s efforts in developing food preservation technologies like crop dryers, freeze driers, fish processing machines, and threshers, fruit juice pasteurizers, CEA-MITIC’s tech-driven solutions to promoting green technology and climate change adaptation, and CEALT’s students creating a transport management app and recycling solutions. 

Recognizing the significance of sustainable partnerships, especially as the project nears its conclusion in June 2025, exploratory discussions are ongoing with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), among other potential partners, with the aim of identifying alternative funding options and establishing meaningful collaborations that will support the ACEs beyond the current funding from the World Bank Group and AFD. 

In addition, Mrs. Adeline Addy, the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager for ACE Impact, underscored the continuous efforts of the centers of excellence. She observed that during the evaluation of the project’s progress, many centers have surpassed expectations, achieving indicators at levels between 70% and 90% of the project targets. As the project approaches its conclusion, the majority of indicators are well within this range. While commendable strides have been made by the centers in pursuit of project goals, there remain certain challenges, notably in the area of institutional accreditation.

Mrs. Adeline Addy, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, ACE Impact-AAU

Mrs. Addy acknowledged the complexity associated with obtaining institutional accreditation as a contributing factor to this challenge. Nevertheless, the centers are committed to their best efforts in reaching this indicator.  

Regarding disbursement rates, Ms. Maud Kouadio, World Bank Education Consultant working with the ACE Impact project team, reported the current status falls between 40% and 80%, with a projected increase to 80% to 90% by June 2024. Centers received a strong call to remain dedicated to achieving these targets and optimizing their utilization of funds. These insights underscore the impressive advancements made by the ACE Impact project and the unwavering determination and dedication of the centers to not only meet but surpass their objectives, despite grappling with challenges along the way. The unwavering commitment to these initiatives demonstrates a commitment to the transformation of higher education across the African continent. 

Ms. Maud Kouadio, Education Consultant, World Bank

ACE Partner Project’s Contribution 

The ACE Partner Project, funded by the French Development Agency (AFD), supports thematic networks in sustainable water management, infectious diseases, digital science and technology, and mining and sustainable development. This initiative brings together 23 ACEs across eight West African countries to strengthen collaboration in training, collaborative research and capacity building. Dr. Quentin Delpech, Senior Education Consultant at AFD, reported on the ACE Partner activities highlighting achievements such as partnerships with six institutions, 52 scholarships, 49 research programs, 63 inter-ACE research publications, over 4 million Euros generated, 3500 students trained and successful collaboration with the private sector. 

Dr. Quentin Delpech, Senior Education Consultant, AFD

Sustainability as a Key Focus 

As the ACE Impact and ACE Partner projects approach their respective conclusions in June 2025 and February 2024, sustainability becomes paramount. The ACEs are encouraged to leverage their successes to foster sustainable partnerships and alternative funding opportunities that will support their activities beyond the World Bank Group and AFD funding. 

The ACE Impact Project and its partners remain dedicated to the transformation of African higher education, and their continued efforts are set to leave a lasting impact on the continent’s educational landscape.

CEFTER and NRI Deepen Academic Partnership 

The Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) and the Natural Resources Institute have launched a partnership scheme to enhance scientific research. This partnership comes on the back of a successful teaching collaboration that has existed between the two parties for five years.

Under the new research partnership aiming to fund at least five projects, each party will contribute £50,000 in research revenue for the 2023/2024 academic year to grow research excellence.  

The funds generated through the partnership will support innovative research discretions, generating data, and producing outputs that will lead to even expanded collaborative research opportunities. 

The Natural Research Institute (NRI) is a specialized research, development, and education organization of the University of Greenwich, UK, with a focus on food, agriculture, environment, and sustainable livelihoods, which also align with the mandate of the World Bank-funded ACE Impact project. 

In line with the core objectives of its mother ACE Impact project, CEFTER, through this partnership with international academics, will produce rigorous research that will identify innovations and technologies to reduce post-harvest losses in Nigeria and undertake sector-based knowledge exchange to address local, national, and international challenges. 

For their individual contributions to this joint research scheme, CEFTER, which is hosted by Benue State University in Nigeria, will draw funds from its share of the ACE Impact project while NRI will draw from its Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (FaNSI). Together, the funding from the two partners will be used to cover their associated staff time and research costs. 

The research will support applications low-cost potential for success in the following research areas: termite control, innovations in low-cost, post-harvest technologies for smallholder farmers and food processors, nutritional profiling of indigenous foods recommended for diabetic patients, packaging, and transportation of tropical fruits and national food supply forecasting, including import and expert deficits for rice and cassava and quantification of citrus and cassava produce in Benue State, Nigeria. 

WACCBIP (Ghana) Diagnoses Genetics of Hearing Impairment in Ghana

Written By Millicent Afriyie Kyei

The West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) hosted by the University of Ghana since its inception in 2014, has been at the forefront of addressing health-related challenges in the region through applied scientific and biomedical research in infectious and non-communicable diseases as well as human genetic research. There have been numerous breakthroughs demonstrating development impact, through the cutting-edge research conducted by the centre. One of the major research innovations is the diagnosis of the genetics of hearing impairment in Ghana.

Adamorobe, a community in the Akuapim South District in the Eastern region of Ghana has a characteristically high incidence of hereditary hearing impairment (HI). It is therefore not surprising that marriages between deaf persons were barred in the town in 1975, to curb the rate of deaf offspring. To further understand the cause(s) of the hearing impairment, WACCBIP, with its modern next-generation sequencing approaches investigated this challenge by recruiting thirty (30) individuals from eight (8) multiplex families (20 affected and 10 unaffected) from the community, and found the families had GJB2 mutations (GJB2 is an important gene for hearing.  Specific mutations in this gene causes hearing impairment).

As part of a nationwide study investigating the genetic causes of hearing impairment in Ghana, the centre collected samples from all 11 schools for the deaf across the country. The study identified a founder mutation (GJB2-R143W) that accounts for over a quarter of inheritable hearing impairment cases in Ghana. The findings also indicated a 1.4 per cent carrier frequency rate among 145 healthy Ghanaians who were screened randomly, suggesting that among every 145 Ghanaians, two are likely to carry the defective gene that can be passed on to their children. Therefore, the number of hearing-impaired patients in Ghana could silently increase if this gene was not checked.

Cumulatively, the GJB2 founder variant accounted for 42% (37/88) of families, with the majority of GJB2 positive cases observed in participants from the Eastern Region, where Adamorobe is located. Evolutionary analysis also revealed that Ghanaian families segregating the variant are descendants of a common indigenous ancestor who lived approximately 385 generations (approximately 9625 years) ago.

As part of its interventions to reduce the burden of the condition, WACCBIP started a public and policy engagement to create awareness for the genetics of hearing impairment.  A diagnostic test with high sensitivity and specificity to screen newborn babies for common hearing impairment mutations within the Ghanaian population was designed. In addition, the centre is generating and analysing exome data to identify novel hearing impairment gene variants in the country. Lastly, considering the current findings on the contribution of GJB2 in Ghana, it is imperative to reflect on the previously reported policy document for adoption and expansion of the existing premarital counselling to include GJB2 founder variant carrier testing like how the sickle cell disease counselling is handled.

The diagnosis of the genetics of hearing impairment in Ghana by WACCBIP is an example of how this centre of excellence is addressing a national development challenge because it has been strengthened through the ACE Impact Project to conduct relevant, high-quality and impactful research.


Experts Encourage Centres to Prioritize Networks and Partnerships

The ACE Impact subject matter experts play a critical role by providing implementation support and guidance to the centres in meeting project objectives in the thematic areas of health, agriculture, education, social Sciences and STEM, within the project stipulated timelines. They bring on-board diverse expertise and knowledge in both academia and industry to drive centres towards achieving the project goals as well as consolidating and streamlining their efforts in line with global standards as centres of excellence.

The 7th ACE Impact Regional Workshop provided an opportunity for centres to interact with the subject matter experts during the thematic break-out sessions held on Thursday, June 16, 2022. The break-out sessions featured the following thematic areas: Health, Agriculture, Mining, Energy, and Environment, ICT, Education, Engineering and Urban Transport and Water. Experts assigned to the various thematic areas convened with the centres to assess progress made, challenges encountered and the way forward in addressing these challenges. Summary of the discussions in the thematic areas were shared with participants during the final day on 17th June.

Discussions from the health team was presented by Prof. Michelle Niescierenko, Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She noted centres’ key achievements in the areas of external revenue generation, health policy change, improved delivery of short courses and rapid increase in student enrolment by some health centres, acceleration of research through the Health Networks and International accreditation. For instance, more than $5 million in revenue was generated through grants by the Health Centres- ACENTDFB, ACEGID, ACE-PCMT, ACEPHAP, CaPIC, CERHI, WAGMC, WACCBIP. Also, centres such as ACEDHARS have adopted innovative ways such as the ‘flipped classroom’ methods to redefine online short courses for professional learners. Prof. Niescierenko identified student recruitment as a challenge due to Covid-19 lock downs & travel restrictions, political & security contexts in some host countries and academic staff industrial action. In tackling this challenge, it was acknowledged that although some of these challenges were inevitable and beyond the control of the centres, centres were advised to use their partners to disseminate recruitment materials and develop their students and alumni as their ambassadors to attract more students and increase enrolment. Another key challenge noted concerns internships. She noted that the market for high level scientific research was overestimated in the sub-region leaving only government and NGO sector. However, partnerships with the private sector would provide a long-term solution to addressing the challenge of internships. In addition, complex and delayed procurement processes was mentioned as a major obstacle to accessing consumables, supplies & equipment for science research. It was further noted that the issue of procurement is peculiar to countries therefore University leaders, Center Teams and PSC members were encouraged to work together to identify where bottlenecks can be eradicated. Moving forward, centres were reminded that the project is time-bound hence it remains crucial for activities to be accelerated for maximized use of funds in relation to achieving project targets. Moreover, centres were further encouraged to expand their pool of partners as well as leverage partnerships for knowledge and technology transfer, and research commercialization.

The summary of discussions for the Engineering, Urban & Water Breakout Sessions presented by Prof. J. P. Vandervaere reported that centres in the thematic discipline had made significant progress in the areas of internships and networking. However, key challenges recorded include the narrow scope of regionality in terms of internships and weak inter-ACE networking and partnerships. In addressing these challenges, centres were implored to leverage their partnerships for internship opportunities for their students as well as work more closely with partners to enhance the regional impact, image, and attractiveness of their centres. To strengthen inter-ACE networking and collaborations, centres were advised to leverage on the inter-ACE Networking initiative as well as identify common areas for potential collaborations such as joint research and sharing resources. Furthermore, discussions from the session suggested possible thematic partnerships among the ACEs in the areas of Water & Agriculture; Transport & Health; Engineering & Environment; ICT & Energy. Prof. Vandervaere also highlighted the need for centres to expedite the processes for international accreditation.

Prof. Cyrille van Effenterre, an Engineer and High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES) expert also presented a summary of the agriculture session where he reported that some centres were venturing into entrepreneurship by commercializing some research products. He cited an example of CEFTER where he explained that the centre had commenced a food company, a spin-off of the host University-Benue State University by producing and selling various processed foods including bread, cassava flakes, etc. Other success areas include expansion of partnerships, enhanced community engagements and remarkable steps towards entrepreneurship through the development and implementation of entrepreneurship plan by some centres. The issues of procurement and financial delays, weak institutional impact and publications were captured as operational bottlenecks for the centres. In addressing these challenges, centres were urged to work collaboratively with their governments and universities to jump the procurement hurdle. Again, centres were encouraged to develop a strategy to strengthen research publications as well as engage their various universities for institutional buy-in. For the way forward, recommendations made comprise the need for centres to implement acceleration plans, establish plans for the judicious use of additional funds, design research strategies in close collaboration with industry and academic partners as well as strengthen partnerships and networks including the ACE Impact Inter-ACE network for agriculture- the Food for West Africa Network (Food4WA).

The final presentation on Education and ICT made by Dr. Dimitrios Noukakis acknowledged the role of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in increasing student enrolment especially during the pandemic, the various regional workshops and conferences centres have organized and participated. Notable among these were the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Conference held in Vancouver, Canada, the Cybersecurity and Digitalization Workshop and the Sustainable Integration of Digital Education Conference, both held in Abuja, in March and May 2022 respectively. Centres were also commended for their efforts toward strengthening the inter-ACE network on digital education- African Digital Education Network (ADEN). Key challenges identified signaled the need to improve in the areas of student recruitment, internships, accreditation and research publications. Centres were therefore urged to strengthen the marketing of MSc & PhD programs as well as increase offer of short courses to address skills gaps related to the digitalization as a means to increase student recruitment. For internships, centres were entreated to establish a dedicated internal team to liaise with companies, secure internships, and follow up with students. Centres were further advised to accelerate the international accreditation process by setting up internal committees to manage the process. Considering the fact that online and blended learning are the future of advanced teaching and learning and gradually setting the benchmark for meeting world-class standards in terms of delivery of quality education, centres were encouraged to deploy Learning Management Systems for all Center’s programs as well as train faculties to use the systems effectively.

In contributing to discussions on the presentations, the participants expressed the need for well-performing centres to support the low-performing centres through peer-learning and sharing experiences. Again, it was emphasized that systems should be put in place to facilitate the processes for centres to have their programs internationally accredited. Lastly, the need for the inter-ACE Networks to be extended beyond the ACEs and their host universities was emphasized.

Digital Competencies are the Game Changer in Africa’s Higher Education

The Centres of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE) Initiative is holding a capacity building workshop for experts in digital education, to build their capacities in the sustainable integration of digital tools and technologies in teaching and learning.

The event, holding from 9th – 12th May 2022 at the National Open University of Nigeria is jointly organized by the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL), the Association of African Universities, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), EPFL, with financial support from the World Bank.  The opening ceremony was chaired by the Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Olufemi Peters, who encouraged the participants to forge collaborative networks through the gathering, and to leverage the opportunity presented by the initiative to contribute to the development of their national economies, and that of the continent as a whole.

Speaking on behalf of the AAU, Dr. Sylvia Mkandawire, the ACE Impact Project Manager, underscored the importance of the C-CoDE initiative for the project, stating that it emerged as a COVID-19 response, to support institutions effectively deliver on their core targets. She extended the AAU’s appreciation to the Vice Chancellors and management of host institutions of the C-CoDE initiative and generally, the ACE-Impact Project, for their continuous support.

C-CoDE is an initiative being implemented under the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Project with the objective of strengthening the techno-pedagogical skills of lecturers by promoting the use of innovative digital technologies in educational practices. Ultimately, the sustainable integration of digital education in African universities, is seen as a means to strengthen the quality of teaching as well as the competencies of graduates.

The ongoing training forms part of a series of trainings which commenced in September 2021 for the six (6) universities which are part of this initiative, namely –   1) National Open University of Nigeria 2) University of Nigeria, Nsukka 3) Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria 4) University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, Ghana, 5) Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and 6) Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, Bénin.

The previous online trainings have comprehensively taken participants through the broad topics of Course Design, Educational Resources, Development and Implementation, while the ongoing face to face training is focusing on Delivery and Evaluation.

It is expected that the involved universities would eventually serve other African institutions using a training-the-trainers model, within the broader ACE Impact project portfolio and across the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region.

The fourth (4th) training workshop of experts in digital education which is underway, features 40 participants and is being facilitated by the EPFL, represented by Dr Lisa Danielle Myers, and Ms. Virginie Torrens who are both digital education experts. The key training content/areas include online teaching (i.e. the actual delivery of an online course to students), course evaluation,  applying interactive teaching strategies to facilitate active learning, preparing students to learn online and analysing how to select and train facilitators, among others.

Through this training of digital experts and more broadly the C-CoDE initiative, our Centre and the host University will be more equipped to deliver sound pedagogical learning resources that will improve teaching and learning in the post Covid-era” said Prof. Grace Jokthan, Centre Leader for the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning.

Another key event holding immediately after the ongoing workshop is the ACE Impact Regional Digital Education Conference scheduled for 12th – 13th May 2022.

Participating in this conference are stakeholders from African higher education, Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence, the National Universities Commission of Nigeria, industry players, government officials, representatives from AAU and EPFL and the C-CoDE participating centres. The C-CoDE participating centres are 1)  the African Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced learning (ACETEL), 2) the African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Power and Policy (ACE-SPED), 3) the African Centre of Excellence in Population Health and Policy (ACEPHAP), 4) the Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA), 5) the Regional Centre for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (RCEES), 6) the Regional Centre for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (CEFORGRIS) and 7) the African Centre of Excellence in Science, Mathematics, Computer Science and Applications (CEA-SMIA).

Stakeholders are encouraged to register via this link- https://forms.gle/SfoyfPix1MonBz2M8 and participate in this important conference.

Request for Expression of Interest- Procurement Specialist – Francophone

Second Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (2nd ACE Impact) (P169064)

Consultancy Services for the engagement of Procurement Specialist (Francophone) at the Regional Facilitation Unit of the Association of African Universities.

The Association of African Universities invites eligible individuals to apply for the position of Procurement Specialist – Francophone. The detailed Terms of Reference (ToR- English) for the position can be found here  , ToR- French or can be obtained at the email address given below.

Competency and Expertise

Interested Consultants should provide information demonstrating that they have the required qualifications and relevant experience to perform the Services. The shortlisting criteria are available in the Terms of Reference

The attention of interested Consultants is drawn to Section III, paragraphs, 3.14, 3.16, and 3.17 of the World Bank’s “Procurement Regulations for IPF Borrowers” July 2016 and revised in November 2017, and August 2018 (“Procurement Regulations”), setting forth the World Bank’s policy on conflict of interest available here  .

A consultant will be selected  in accordance with the Individual Consultant Selection method set out in the World Bank’s “Procurement Regulations for IPF Borrowers” July 2016 and revised in November 2017, and August 2018 (“Procurement Regulations”). Further information can be obtained at the address below during office hours 0900 to 1700 hours.

Expression of Interest.

Interested individual Consultants are requested to complete the online application . Expressions of interest must be received by close of day 18th February 2021. For further enquire and clarifications, please write to smkandawire@aau.org.

Request for Expression of Interest – Environmental and Social Safeguard Specialist – Francophone


Second Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (2nd ACE Impact) (P1649064)

Consultancy Services for the engagement of Environmental and Social Safeguards Specialist (Francophone) at the Regional Facilitation Unit of the Association of African Universities. 

The Association of African Universities invites eligible individuals to apply for the position of Environmental and Safeguards Specialist – Francophone. The detailed Terms of Reference (TOR) for the assignment can be found  here  , ToR- French or can be obtained at the email address given below.

Competency and Expertise

Interested Consultants should provide information demonstrating that they have the required qualifications and relevant experience to perform the Services. The shortlisting criteria are available in the Terms of Reference.

The attention of interested Consultants is drawn to Section III, paragraphs, 3.14, 3.16, and 3.17 of the World Bank’s “Procurement Regulations for IPF Borrowers” July 2016 and revised in November 2017, and August 2018 (“Procurement Regulations”), setting forth the World Bank’s policy on conflict of interest available here  .

A consultant will be selected will be selected in accordance with the Individual Consultant Selection method set out in the World Bank’s “Procurement Regulations for IPF Borrowers” July 2016 and revised in November 2017, and August 2018 (“Procurement Regulations”). Further information can be obtained at the address below during office hours 0900 to 1700 hours.

Expression of Interest

Interested individual Consultants must complete the online application here. Expressions of interest must be received by close of day 18th February 2021. Clarifications may be requested per email to smkandawire@aau.org.

Stanford University Names ACE-FUELS Director Among World Top Scientists

Professor Emeka Oguzie, the Centre Director for the Africa Centre of Excellence for Future Energies and Electrochemical Systems(ACE FUELS), hosted by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) has being named by the Stanford University among the top 2 percent of the most cited scientist in various disciplines (Civil, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Physics, Biosciences and Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, among others) in the world. The list comprises 159, 683 individuals with nearly 1500 scientists, doctors and engineers globally.

The report was prepared by a team led by Professor John P. A. Loannisis of Stanford University. Prof. Loannisis is a renowed scientist whose enormous contributions in evidence-based medicine, epidemiology and clinical research have been globally celebrated. The database was created to provide updated analyses and a publicly available database of top scientists that provide standardized information on citations, h-index, co-authorship-adjusted hm-index, citations to papers in different authorship positions, and a composite indicator.

About Professor Emeka Oguzie
Professor Emeka Oguzie leads the multidisciplinary Electrochemistry and Materials Science Research Unit at FUTO. He is noted for his insightful works in the fields of Chemistry and Materials Science. Prof. Oguzie is also the President of the International Family Foundation.
He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Pure Chemistry from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, M.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry from the Federal University of Technology Owerri and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Calabar.

About Stanford University
The Stanford University is a US based University noted for its academic and research excellence. According to the 2020 edition of the QS World University Rankings, Stanford University is the 2nd highest- ranking university in the world.

Source: talk.com

CERHI/ACEGID Partnership Wins Grant for Validation of Rapid Diagnostic COVID-19 Test Kits

The Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), University of Benin in collaboration with the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) hosted by the Redeemer’s University and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) have been awarded a Grant to validate Rapid Diagnostic Tests kits (RDT) for COVID-19 testing in Nigeria.

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a research consortium between CERHI and UBTH for the testing of the SARS COV-2 virus. With CERHI’s laboratories and facilities, including RT-PCR machine for testing for the virus and UBTH’s expertise in managing infectious diseases, the unit was validated by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to become the second testing unit in Edo State, and one of the few in Nigeria. Similarly, the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) successfully sequenced the genomes of the COVID-19 virus and was the first institution to do so in Africa. Considering this knowledge and expertise, the three institutions partnered to apply for a Grant on the validation of RDTs in Nigeria. Led by Professor Friday E. Okonofua, Centre leader of CERHI and Professor Christian Happi, Centre Leader of ACEGID, the team’s proposal was selected for funding and implementation.  The CERHI/UBTH/ACEGID team is one of the 5 teams selected to develop and implement a national protocol for the validation of RDT kits for COVID-19 in Nigeria. The projected timeline for completion of this project is four months.

The importance of this project stems from the fact that available rapid tests for COVID-19 in Nigeria have not been validated and as a result, this project will contribute to the validation of the rapid COVID-19 tests, comparing the sensitivities and predictive results obtained from their use with the gold standard and the PCR test.  If the rapid tests are found to be sensitive and accurate, it will expand access to COVID-19 testing to millions of Nigerians, and the continent at large.

The Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI) and Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) are part of the 53 Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) supported by World Bank through the coordination of the Association of African Universities as the Regional Facilitation Unit. The ACE Impact project aims to address regional developmental challenges through quality post-graduate education and applied research (https://ace.aau.org/).

CERHI implements high quality training and applied research for reproductive health professionals. The centre is also a leading name in the development and implementation of several ground-breaking researches in the field of sexual and reproductive health and population studies within the continent (https://www.cerhiuniben.edu.ng/).

ACEGID focuses on capacity building of African scientists in the field of genomics. The centre aims to translate the research outcome to products that can be deployed to the field to contribute to the control, management and elimination of infectious diseases in the continent (https://acegid.org/).

CERHI Receives the Seeding Labs 2020 Instrumental Access Award

The Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), University of Benin, Nigeria is one of 18 awardees to receive equipment that will build scientific infrastructure to advance research and teaching from the 2020 Seeding Labs Instrumental Access.

The equipment were received by the CERHI management led by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Lilian I. Salami, CERHI Centre Leader, Professor Friday Okonofua, among other members.

The Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), is a World Bank supported African Centre of Excellence in the University of Benin. It was established in 2015 to build capacity for implementing high quality training and applied research in reproductive health. CERHI offers Masters, and PhD programmes in public health, nursing, reproductive health, and health economics. The Centre is accredited by the Agency for Public Health Education on Accreditation (APHEA), Belgium and the High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES), France.

The Centre currently collaborates with several departments in the Faculties of Basic Medical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Pharmacy in multidisciplinary research. Although CERHI Medical and Research Laboratory already has a decent array of laboratory equipment; the high-tech equipment received from the Seeding Labs Instrumental Access would facilitate research in the centre and university at large.

Seeding Labs is a Boston-based nonprofit organization aimed at building the capacity of scientists in conducting transformative researches. Through a coalition of more than 140 public and private sector partners, Seeding Labs provides scientists in developing nations with lab equipment, training, and opportunities to collaborate with experts in their field—and to use these vital resources to improve education, research, and economic development. This makes it possible for most budding researchers in low- and middle-income countries to conduct excellent research in their home country.

Contact: smkandawire@aau.org | Association of African Universities | P. O. Box AN 5744,
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