Innovative research produces patented breakthrough product improving the economic status of women in Burkina Faso

Innovative research produces patented breakthrough product improving the economic status of women in Burkina Faso

Safiatou TRAORE, a national of Burkina Faso, is enrolled for her PhD studies at the Center for Training, Research and Expertise in Medicine Sciences (CFOREM) hosted by Joseph KI-ZERBO University.  She is currently in her 1st year of doctoral study in ‘Development of Phytomedicines’ and expects to graduate in 2023. She specifically chose to study with CEFOREM because of the high-quality teaching methods and the personal inspiration and guidance from Professor Rasmané SEMDE, who gave her the zeal and courage to not give up after successfully completing her Master’s. She appreciates the fact that she could balance her family life with her research work and studies.


Ms TRAORE PhD research is a continuation of her research at Masters level. Her research title is “research and development of creams based on honey, shea butter and Burkinabè plant extracts for the treatment of burns”. She indicated that in Burkina Faso, 13.7% of children under the age of 5 are admitted in hospitals for burns (2015). The local treatment of burns is currently based on expensive imported products which are financially inaccessible to the majority of the population.

Safiatou aims to develop a stable honey-shea-butter cream for the local treatment of burns to help support those most vulnerable who cannot afford to purchased imported burn treatment creams. The two raw materials are proven to have healing properties and most importantly, are locally produced, readily available, and at a low cost. “This research will not only produce an affordable local treatment for burns, but will also create new outlets and commercial opportunities for the honey and shea butter producers, who are mainly women’s associations in Burkina Faso.”


The patent of this innovative and problem-solving research product has been registered with the African Intellectual Property Organization, an intellectual property organization headquartered in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The shea-butter-honey cream is already on high demand by Burkinabè clinicians and pediatric surgeons. The Joseph KI-ZERBO University incubation office has invested in this product, including it within their framework as a university start up business. A business plan has been developed for its commercial exploitation and expansion.


The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) defines a patent as “a set of exclusive rights granted by law to applicants for inventions that are new, non-obvious and commercially applicable”. Patents are important because they allow holders to commercially exploit their inventions on an exclusive basis. The global patent system is intended to inspire innovation by giving creators time-limited exclusive legal rights, thus assisting them to appropriate the returns from their innovation.


In the short term Ms TRAORE wishes to participate in the valorization of local Burkinabe natural resources. Medium to long term, she hopes to become a seasoned academic, continuing to share and pass on knowledge and experience to build the next generation of female scientists. Safiatou’s academic journey has made her a strong believer in developing research capabilities of Africa. “There is no need to aim to only enroll in PhD programs in western universities.” Many women find it challenging to leave their families for studies – thus eventually not pursuing PhDs. Ms TRAORE advises that opportunities do exist in Burkina Faso for quality doctoral training and research programs. As a special plea to women, she states “sometimes family conditions hold back the ambitions of women to pursue their doctorate studies. Through centers in Africa like CEFOREM, which create conducive conditions for their female candidates – it is now possible for female scientists to enroll for their PhDs.”


Safiatou tells us that “studying at CEFOREM has proved to be rewarding because of the availability of the supervision team, the accessibility of reagents and consumables, the excellent support provided to each student and the presence of foreign students that allows exchange of experiences.” The ACE for development impact centers are demonstrating that through student-led research it is possible to foster creativity and innovation for economic growth and development in Africa.

Expanding opportunities for young African female scientists to reimagine their dreams

Expanding opportunities for young African female scientists to reimagine their dreams

Jessica Nnenna Uwanibe is one of many young female scientists enrolled in a PHD/Master’s program at one of the ACE Impact II centers. Jessica is scheduled to complete her PhD studies in Molecular Biology and Genomics at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) hosted by Redeemer’s University in Nigeria. Her research work is focused on identifying and comprehending drug resistant patterns of Salmonella species in South West Nigeria, research she hopes will help treat thousands of people, reduce suffering, and save lives. Salmonella are types of bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans, typhoid fever, gastroenteritis and other related illnesses. “This research will work to inform the proper diagnosis of Salmonella related diseases and suggest improved monitoring policies in Nigeria.”


As a young and upcoming African Scientist, Miss Uwanibe has always wanted to solve global health challenges through her research. Her career goal is to achieve this by enrolling for a Postdoctoral fellowship to focus on translational infectious diseases research. She aspires to lead large research projects to unravel the mechanisms by which pathogens cause diseases and develop novel therapeutics and vaccines to fight them.


Jessica chose to study her PhD at the Redeemer’s University African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases as she found the field of Molecular Biology and Genomics to be “new, exciting, and innovative.” She tells us how science and engineering centered subjects always had low female participation rates and she wanted to see this change, inspiring the next generation of young women. “ACEGIDs vision really resonates with my own personal vision for using science and research to improve everyday people’s lives.”


As a PhD fellow at ACEGID, Jessica says the aspect she enjoyed the most was being exposed to innovative research and cutting edge molecular tools. This access afforded her the ability to serve Nigeria during this time of crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been “such a life changing opportunity and experience.” She is looking forward to her graduation in September 2021 after four years of intense, but fulfilling research.


Knowledge and resource sharing are at the core of all ACE Impact centers. Miss Uwanibe has benefited from the expertise of her mentors whilst participating as a member of the ACEGID team involved in the pioneering and innovative COVID19 research, led by Professor Christian Happi. “I am so proud to be part of the first team in Africa to successfully sequence the genome of SARS-CoV-2 and share it with the international science community.”


ACEGID has proceeded to identify 10 distinct lineages of SARS-CoV-2 in circulation within Nigeria through genome sequencing and this work has been helpful in steering Nigeria’s public health response. The experiences of being part of the ACEGID team handling the COVID-19 diagnosis and sequencing have given Miss Uwanibe the confidence to reimagine what is possible in the field of health research in Africa moving forward.


Miss Uwanibe’s advice to young people and particularly young women aspiring to do their PhDs is that they must “persevere, be patient, tenacious and be mentally prepared.” Jessica is just one example of the high-quality postgraduate students being trained under the Africa Centers of Excellence for Development Impact Project. The project is positively improving the quality, quantity, and development impact of postgraduate education in sub-Saharan Africa by supporting regional specialization in thematic areas that address regional challenges.

Building capacities in Francophone Africa

Building capacities in Francophone Africa

A closer look at Guinea

A total of 26 francophone Africa Centers of Excellence are involved in the ACE Impact project and have been working to improve the quality, quantity, and development impact of postgraduate education in francophone Africa.  We focus our lenses on the African Center of Excellence for the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases (CEA -PCMT). Hosted by the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry (UGANC) in Guinea, CEA-PCMT aims to sustainably improve the prevention and control of communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. Its objective is to establish at UGANC, a regional program of excellence in training and research on communicable diseases. The center was created in 2019 as part of the ACE Impact project and is offering world class training geared towards innovation and impacting society. This process involves public and private development actors at national, regional, and international levels to achieve its goals.


Programmes Offered

Broadly, the center offers short courses, masters, and doctoral programs on community health, global health and emerging diseases, primary health, quality assurance and research methodology among several other key programmes. In positioning itself as a regional reference center in the prevention and control of communicable diseases in West Africa, the center conducts applied research in partnership with national and international institutions. This applied research is in the following three main areas: Implementation science research, communicable disease surveillance and monitoring of antimicrobial resistance to drugs and products used in the fight against communicable diseases.


Regional and Global Partners

The African Center of Excellence for the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases prioritises building strong mutually beneficial partnerships in achieving its key targets.  It has partnerships with individuals and units from various higher education institutions including the following: the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; University of Montpellier; University of Sherbrooke; University of Ghana, Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp; and University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako (USTTB), Mali.


Center Leadership and Contact

Center Leader: Prof. Alexandre DELAMOU

Email address:

Deputy Center Leader: Dr. Mariame Sadjo DIALLO

Email address:


Inspiring the next Generation of Female Leaders – Professor Grace Jokthan

Inspiring the next Generation of Female Leaders – Professor Grace Jokthan

Prof. Grace Jokthan is the center leader of the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) and a member of the University Governing Council of the National Open University of Nigeria. She obtained her Bachelor of Agriculture degree in 1990 from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria and her Masters and Doctorate degrees from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria in 2002 and 2006 respectively. Prof. Jokthan’s key message to younger women in all ACE Impact centers, is “all challenges are surmountable through persistence, hard work and remaining focused.” In an exclusive interview with the ACE Impact communications team, she said that the journey to the top has not been easy, because as a woman, you have to put in almost twice the effort a man does to succeed, especially in the male dominated society that we find ourselves in.  “The roles of parenting, housekeeping, academic/office demands can be daunting and requires a delicate balance. I got married at level 100, so all my academic life was also when I had my three children, but with hard work, reaching your goals and being in a strategic leadership position to contribute to the transformation agenda, is within reach” she said.


A glimpse at Prof. Jokthan’s Journey to the Top Leadership Positions Held 

Prof. Jokthan started her career in the Department of Animal Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1992 as an Assistant Lecturer and rose to the rank of Associate Professor in 2010. Aside teaching and supervising several students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels within this period, she also served the University in various capacities, including being the Postgraduate Departmental Coordinator, Member of the University Senate Standing Committee and Head of the Department of Animal Science. She was a Member of the Board of Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) Multi Links Ltd, as well as a Member of the Governing Board of the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI), Shika-Zaria. She also served as the Head, Department of Animal Science and Fisheries at the National Open University of Nigeria from 2016 to 2018.  “I was a pioneer Council Member of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) 2007 – 2011.  National Process Facilitator and, National Programme Manager for Research Into Use Nigeria (RIU) – Nigeria; a non-governmental DFID funded project that sort to improve the uptake of innovative agricultural research outputs” She added.  Prof Jokthan was previously a consultant on the Innovation Platforms to the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP).


Message to Fellow Senior Colleagues on Mentorship

Having benefitted enormously from the power of mentorship, she is encouraging other senior colleagues involved in the ACE Impact project to mentor the next generation as they strive to attain their potentials.  “Mentorship from my senior colleague who always told me not to give up helped me at my low moments and therefore we need to have more focus on providing such mentors in our institutions”, she said.


When asked whether being a female center leader brings any key difference to the project, she intimated that though the Project deliverables (DLI) remain the same, being a woman provides another perspective often not considered that is valuable and has helped in creating a team strong enough to face the task ahead and deliver on the target.

Bridging the Gender Gap – ACE Impact Champions Women, Girls Education, and Leadership

Bridging the Gender Gap – ACE Impact Champions Women, Girls Education, and Leadership

Having more females empowered through the acquisition of higher education degrees and relevant skills has been a key focus of the ACE Impact project. Female enrolment and involvement in the higher education sector, particularly in STEM subjects, has generally been low, with stakeholders being called upon to invest efforts to ensure that the pipeline of women in higher education as students, administrators, researchers, and leaders increases in proportion to the population of women in Africa.

ACE Impact is strategically responding to this call, by highlighting female enrolment as a key disbursement linked indicator in a bid to encourage all centers to prioritise female student enrolment in their centers. Current figures show that the project is making some remarkable progress in closing the gender gap in higher education. For the period January 2019 – December 2020, the number of females enrolled in ACE Impact Centers stood at 3,333, representing 31% of the overall target of enrolling 10,707 females during the project’s life cycle.

The project is advocating and calling on all centers to continue pursuing the set target, strategising new innovative ways to attract more female candidates into their centers until the gender is well and truly closed.

Within higher education, a key area where women are significantly underrepresented is in positions of leadership. With the month of March being dedicated to the celebration of Women (8th March being International Women’s Day), we focus our attention on one of our female center leaders who is serving as a key role model to young female students and faculty across Africa.

ACE in Focus: Get to know the Emerging Center of Excellence for Logistics and Transport in Djibouti

ACE in Focus: Get to know the Emerging Center of Excellence for Logistics and Transport in Djibouti

The Africa Center of Excellence for Logistics and Transport (CEALT) is one of the two emerging centers of Excellence located in Djibouti, and one of the five new emerging centers of excellence under the ACE Impact Project.  The republic of Djibouti places a high premium on education, seeing it as an essential tool for Djibouti’s growth and development. Given the country’s strategic location (the Suez Canal, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Shipping route) and its significance in global trade and international shipping, CEALT is top priority for the Government as the country continues to leverage its natural positioning to its advantage.


CEALT is hosted by the University of Djibouti, in addition to a second Center – the University of Djibouti School of Engineering and aims to become a regional logistics hub in Africa, specializing in the field of logistics, transport, and applied digitization. In line with the ACE Impact Project, the center has been working to improve the quality, quantity, and development impact of postgraduate education in Africa.


Since its establishment, the Africa Center of Excellence for Logistics and Transport has continued to be an active player in the logistics sector by strengthening the capacity of human resources on the continent through training, education (at Masters and PhD levels), research, and services to the society in the form of community engagement. It practices an active pedagogy, with a strong component of exposure to problem-solving, case studies, and internships in companies. This Center of Excellence prioritizes the promotion of women’s access to higher education and the investment of efforts to increase the number of female students and faculty until equality is achieved


Composition of the Center

The Africa Center of Excellence for Logistics and Transport is made up of two (2) key components – CELT (Logistics and Transport) and Co-E (College of Engineering). It is equipped with an infrastructure of international standards and welcomes motivated Master and Doctorate students who are selected through competitive examinations administered by the University of Djibouti.


Key Objectives and Expected Results

CEALT aims to provide the Republic of Djibouti, as well as the countries of the region, with highly competent and innovative technicians, specialists, engineers and executives in the strategic development sectors of Africa such as Logistics, Transport, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. CEALT offers high-quality engineering training which responds to the real needs identified in promising socio-economic sectors such as transport systems, electrical and energy engineering (GEE), civil engineering (GC), and Data Sciences (MDS). The center has a target to promote research within the University of Djibouti, and beyond, through the production of high-level scientific research articles.


Key Achievements

  • Recruitment of the first batch of 9 doctoral students from the University of Djibouti
  • Reinforcement of the master’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Reinforcement of the master’s degree in Civil Engineering
  • Reinforcement of the Master in Logistics and Transport
  • Establishment of a Masters in Data Sciences in 2019 academic year
  • The establishment of two Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Civil Engineering Laboratories, (FabLAb)
  • Development of smart classes and fully equipped state of the art computer rooms.



The center is managed by Dr Abdoulkader Ibrahim Idriss who serves as the center leader. Additionally, CEALT relies on two advisory councils – scientific experts to validate the quality of its academic approach, and industrial experts to validate the relevance of its approach to the needs of businesses and the socio-economic sector.


How the ACE Impact Project is Transforming the Center

Under one of the key project subcomponents, ACE Impact is strengthening, through partnerships, both undergraduate and postgraduate education programmes that will provide training to their students and develop skills which are useful in addressing the national development needs of Djibouti. The center is also receiving support for activities including regional technical assistance to strengthen academic programmes and curriculum design; faculty scholarships and training; costs of visiting faculty; technical assistance for institutional policies and practices; improving teaching and research resources; and other regional engagements. Overall, the project has helped improve networking and the broader learning environment of CEALT.



Contact CEALT here

Regional approaches to tackling development challenges

Regional approaches to tackling development challenges

How ACE Impact Project is transforming Education and Research in Africa

The ACE Impact for Development Project is in its third year of implementation and has recorded notable successes in delivering high-quality training, competitive applied research, impactful industry/sector partnerships, mutually beneficial regional and international academic partnerships, and enhanced institutional governance and management of the participating universities.


As of November 2020, there were 10,817 masters and doctoral students enrolled across the 53 Centers, 24% of these being regional students. The number of female students across the centers reached 3,333, aligning with the project’s gender inclusion goal of at least 30% female students being trained at any point in time.

The results achieved by the centers are in harmony with the objective of improving the quality, quantity, and development impact of postgraduate education in participating universities through regional specialization and collaboration across West and Central Africa.

Eighty-two programmes being offered by the Centers are in the process of being internationally accredited, creating opportunities for increases in enrolment, as well as boosting the employability of graduates from the centers. Accreditation of programmes verifies if an institution meets or exceeds the minimum quality standards, making the courses and centers internationally competitive.


ACE Impact regional Approach

The ACE impact regional approach utilizes collaboration in training to meet the national level needs. For example, the centers hosted by the universities enrol students wishing to be trained in specific thematic areas from across the continent. In addition, the centers leverage the resident capacities in the region and beyond to support the training and supervision of the post-graduate students. Further to this, students are provided with internships and given the opportunity to complete them either in their home countries or regionally. This regional approach facilitates cross-fertilization of ideas and understanding of research problems from national, regional, and global perspectives.

Centers COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic presented opportunities for centers to cooperate, sharing knowledge and best practices nationally, regionally, and internationally with various partners through their contributions and experiences towards controlling the spread of this pandemic. Professor Christian Happi is a leading researcher at the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Redeemer’s University, Nigeria. The center is in partnership with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and other research and public health partners, to implement a Sentinel project for an early warning system in Africa. The project combines genomics with advanced information technologies to transform infectious disease surveillance in real-time. An early warning that could save millions of lives.


Creating a Safe Learning Environment for Students

Along with attracting both national and regional students, meeting the required infrastructure standards, and ensuring the centers remain internationally competitive, creating safe learning spaces and environments is a top priority for ACE Impact. The project prioritizes the safety of all stakeholders involved, especially students, through the incorporation of sexual harassment policies and the development of grievance mechanisms systems. Each center of excellence, as part of the disbursements linked indicators, produced a comprehensive sexual harassment policy, as well as appointed a focal person/office responsible for monitoring and implementing the policy. The ACEs also engage students regularly on these policies and clarify to them how they can report any form of sexual harassment.

Additionally, the project appointed an expert in year 2020 to review all the anti-sexual harassment policies and provide feedback which the ACEs used to improve their policies where necessary. Webinars were also held by the Association of African Universities and the World Bank teams from January-March 2020 to raise awareness among the students and build capacities of all those involved.

Moving Forward

As the world adapts to our new digital and virtual reality, the regional approach has been applied to build the capacity of faculty with online teaching methods and technology. Capacity building workshops are being run virtually bringing in experts from Switzerland, Morocco and Senegal to facilitate the sessions. The ACE Impact faculty from the 11 countries converge virtually to participate.


Development challenges tackled by the ACEs

To contribute to job creation and poverty eradication, the centers conduct training programs for the surrounding communities as part of their outreach and community development. For example, the Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) in Nigeria runs value chain training programs for youth and women from adjacent states. The practical and intensive training focuses on rice, fisheries, and poultry value chains for employment.


The COVID-19 pandemic spurred the Centers to respond to the health challenge posed by the pandemic. The Centers joined forces with their governments to contribute towards the control of the coronavirus. The ACEGID (African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases) and WACBIP (West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens) have been exemplary in conducting the genome sequencing of SARS COV-2 in Nigeria and Ghana. In this important work WACCI and ACEGID worked collaboratively with their governments, national research centers, and other national universities to produce impactful results. The genome sequencing is critical for diagnostics and vaccine development. The data emanating from genome sequencing is important for policy actions and national as well as regional responses.


Other Centers designed hand-washing devices, manufactured face masks and sanitizers, designed screening tools, led COVID19-related community awareness trainings, developed disease surveillance systems, and finally opened up their campuses to be the venues for COVID19 testing.


Partnerships/ Community engagement

The Centers are developing strategic and significant partnerships as part of their regional approach to training, research, and capacity development. The Africa Centre of Excellence in Coastal Resilience (ACECoR) hosted by the University of Cape Coast is working closely with local and international partners in the areas of research and capacity building towards an accelerated development of the coasts of West Africa and beyond. ACECoR is partnering with Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) at the University of Bremen, Germany to strengthen the scientific and technological community of practice with European partners from relevant marine disciplines for the co-design and co-production of knowledge that will engage with policymakers, businesses, industry, and other stakeholders within the coastal and marine sectors.

Call for Application to Study PhD in Cyber Security at ACETEL

Call for Application to Study PhD in Cyber Security at the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL), National Open University of Nigeria.

The Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL), National Open University of Nigeria, is pleased to invite qualified and interested
candidates to apply for scholarship to study PhD in Cyber Security by submitting a Research Proposal for the thesis entitled: ‘A Secure Data-Centric Architecture for Digital Learning’

The emergence of the Corona Virus (COVID 19) pandemic prompted several Universities across the world and particularly in West Africa, to switch to the digital
learning space as their mode of service delivery. Typically, a huge volume of sensitive data is generated in the course of the online interaction between lecturers and students in the digital learning space. At the core of this mode of learning, are the issues of secure data management and effective mechanisms for authentication and authorisation of endusers. This increased participation of schools in the digital learning space has given rise to the high exposure of the massive volume of sensitive data to various forms of cyberattacks. Although researchers have designed architectures for securing data in the digital learning space, yet, existing architectures have been ineffective for protecting data in this setting. Consequently, this research seeks to design and implement an effective
data-centric architecture for a digital learning system.

Supervisor: Dr Vivian Nwaocha, Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning, National Open University of Nigeria

Co-supervisor: Dr Jules Degila, African Centre of Excellence in Mathematical Sciences and Applications, University of Abomey-Calavi, Republic of Benin

Other contributors on the PhD supervision: Dr Adebukola Onashoga, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria

Eligibility of candidates: All the requirements for admission into PhD in Cyber Security at ACETEL

Additionally, candidates must submit an explicit Research Proposal of not more than 6,000 words highlighting the following: background, problem statement based on current related works, objectives, expected results, proposed methodology, planned activities for the duration of the PhD and references.

Duration of Scholarship: 3 years
Grant: Doctoral Programme of the ACE-Partner DSTN project, 540 euros. The DSTN Project will also sponsor internship for Masters students

The deadline for the application of the DSTN Scholarship is 31st December, 2020.


  • All Ph.D. candidates must upload the concept note of their research interest in not more than 5500 words.
  • ACETEL will offer scholarship to suitably qualified candidates. Please visit ACETEL website at for the Scholarship Application Form and further details.
  • Enquiries on ACETEL Programmes, Scholarship as well as the DSTN Scholarship should be forwarded to ACETEL email: or call 08123030665
  • For national students, application form cost N20, 000.00 and N30, 000.00 for MSc and Ph.D. programmes respectively.
  • For international students, application form cost $155 and $233 for MSc and Ph.D. programmes respectively

Contact: | Association of African Universities | P. O. Box AN 5744,
Accra-North, Ghana | Tel +233-547-728975 All Rights Reserved © 2022