WAGMC Launches Maiden MSc Genetic Counselling Programme in Sub-Saharan Africa
The West African Genetic Medicine Centre (WAGMC), University of Ghana welcomed the first cohort of students into its new flagship Master of Science (MSc) degree programme in January 2022. The postgraduate genetic counselling programme is the first of its kind in Ghana and in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the third of such programme on the continent. The programme is accredited by the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC). Students who graduate from the programme will be required to complete a mandatory one-year internship under the supervision of the Ghana Psychology Council to become licensed to practice as Genetic Counsellors.
Professor Solomon Ofori-Acquah (WAGMC Centre Leader) with Dr. Judith Osae-Larbi and Dr. Dorcas Annan(WAGMC Research Fellows) with some WAGMC Genetic Counselling Students.
The MSc Genetic Counselling programme is a professional health degree programme. It is designed to combine critical skills-training and rigorous independent research, to prepare students for the dynamic field of genetic counselling. It explores both the theoretical and practical aspects of genetic counselling while developing skills in research, teaching, public education, critical thinking, and health leadership. The programme will equip students with current knowledge in human genomics, genetics, genetic analysis and bioinformatics, as well as the relevant communication, counselling, and psychological skills they need to succeed and adapt to advances in genomic medicine. WAGMC worked with several collaborators and partner institutions in South Africa, USA and UK to develop the maiden genetics educational programme. These partnerships offer students exciting internship opportunities across the genomic medicine spectrum all over the world.
In collaboration with the Governments of Ghana, Malawi, and Mozambique, the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) are jointly launching a Call for Proposals under the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project (ACE II). This initiative is proposed to be financed through Additional Financing to ACE II to be reviewed by the World Bank Group (WBG) Board in May 2022 (tentative). The main objective of the proposed project is to strengthen linkages between universities in participating countries and regional agricultural sector needs through strengthening (i) agri-food related education and training enhanced with trans-disciplinary approaches and applied research; (ii) university linkages to the regional agricultural sector – its priorities, needs and stakeholders; and (iii) university partnership with private and public entities related to agri-food both within and outside the region.
The ACE II AF is a result of broad consultations with the governments of Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique; and IUCEA and RUFORUM. Six key regional gap areas have been identified and prioritized for this Project: (i) agribusiness and entrepreneurship; (ii) agri-food systems and nutrition; (iii) agricultural policy analysis; (iv) agricultural risk management and climate change; (v) rural innovations and agricultural extension; and (vi) statistical analysis, forecast and data management. The Project will support the governments of the three participating countries to collectively address challenges in the aforementioned key gap areas by (a) selecting African Centers of Excellence (ACE) through a competitive and transparent process from existing higher education institutions which have certain capacity for research and training in agriculture; (b) strengthening selected universities through professionalizing leadership and management, streamlining administration and capacitating faculty to produce excellent training and applied research which can meet the needs of highly-skilled personnel and knowledge transfer for the agri-food sector; (c) building networks among these institutions to promote regional collaboration, foster partnerships with other institutions including industries for training and applied research to produce innovative solutions for real development impact; and (d) developing a culture of results-orientation and accountability in institutional management through a performance-based financing mechanism. As a regional project, ACE II AF will be governed by its Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and facilitated by its Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU).
The submitted proposals will be evaluated by an Independent Evaluation Committee and the RSC will make the final selection decision. Interested institutions should meet all the following eligibility criteria: (i) be from the participating countries; (ii) offer PhD program(s) or demonstrate readiness to offer a PhD program; and (iii) have programs in at least two disciplinary areas related to one of the regional gap areas.
Proposals are expected to encompass the following elements: Enhancing capacity to deliver regional high quality training in agriculture to address challenge(s) in at least two key gap areas; a) enhancing capacity in addressing emerging challenges such as COVID-19 b) enhancing capacity to deliver applied research to address the challenge(s); c) the strength of the partnership (national and international) and capacity to build networks and offer capacity development for TVET and other Higher Education Institutions; d) building and strengthening national, regional and inter-regional academic collaboration to raise the quality of higher agriculture education and training; e) partnerships with relevant agro-based institutions that deal with processing, storage and distribution of agricultural produce f) building and using industry/sector partnerships to enhance the impact of the project on development, and increase the relevance of these centers of education and research; g) enhancing governance and management of the ACE and the participating universities to improve monitoring and evaluation; and h) demonstrated evidence of the applicant university engagement as well as its willingness to take a leadership role in agriculture transformation in the target country.
Higher education institutions from the Republics of Malawi, Mozambique and Ghana interested to participate in the program are requested to submit their Expression of Interest through https://bit.ly/ACEIIExpression not later than 31st January 2022. The development of final proposals will be undertaken with support from RUFORUM and IUCEA. The governments in collaboration with the World Bank, may offer additional technical support to institutions to develop strong proposals.
The submitted proposals will be competitively evaluated by an Independent Evaluation Committee. However, the Regional Steering Committee will make the final selection decision for successful proposals.
Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Leaming (ACETEL) is a World Bank, Association of African Universities, and Nigeria’s Nanonal Universities Commission supported centre of excellence focusing on the development of human capacity and research in solutions that will lead to the utilisation of technology for education. Domiciled at the headquarters of the National Open University of Nigeria, Jabi, Abuja, the Centre team comprises Of national and international scholars drawn from relevant fields Of science as well as and private sector stakeholders.
Application forms for 2021/2022 Academic Session are available at https://acetel.nou.edu.ng/ from 1st to 15th December 2021 in the following programmes:
MSc Artificial Intelligence
MSc Cyber Security
MSc Management Information System
Ph.D Artificial Intelligence
Ph.D Cyber Security
Ph.D Management Information
ACETEL is therefore, requesting interested and suitably qualified candidates to apply for admission into any of the above indicated postgraduate programmes. Application forms and requirements are available at www.acetel.nou.edu.ng. Interested candidates should follow the online application procedure laid down via the ACETEL Website https://acetel.nou.edu.ng/. While ACETEL offers equal opportunity for enrolment and studies to all, female members of the society are specially encouraged to apply. Scholarship is also available for eligible candidates.
Djibouti Participates in the Young African Scientific Talent Program in Paris
The Centre of Excellence for Transport and Logistics (CEALT) hosted by the University of Djibouti was represented in the African Scientific Talents at the City of Science and Industry in Paris from 17th to 22nd October 2021.Dr Abdou Idris Omar, a researcher and Bioclimate lecturer at the university represented the centre in a unique opportunity to interact with fellow researchers, and explore prospects for future collaborations.
Dr. Omar was among the 32 young African scientists – 15 women and 17men under the age of 35 from 20 African countries(Angola, Guinea, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Kenya, Rwanda, Tunisia, Djibouti, Madagascar, Senegal, Egypt, Mali, Sudan, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Tanzania, Ghana, Mozambique and Chad)selected to participate in the event.
The researchers had the opportunity to make presentations on the scientific projects they have undertaken, whilst also engage with the Universcience teams and other key stakeholders in the science fraternity.
Participants visited various tourist sites including the planetarium of the City of Science and Industry, and the mediation rooms of the Sparks of the Palace of Discovery, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle,the Musée de l’Homme, the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution and the Muséum’s gardens.
The event was supported by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the network of French Embassies in Africa, the Next Einstein Forum Network and Campus France.
The alumni association of the Regional Centre of Excellence on Avian Sciences (CERSA) of the University of Lomé was officially launched on 19 August.
The CERSA Alumni Association, which brings together former students who have obtained their Master’s and/or Doctorate at the Regional Centre of Excellence on Avian Sciences (CERSA) of the University of Lomé, was officially launched on 19th August 2021. The ceremony took place virtually, with selected members physically attending the ceremony whilst adhering to all COVID-19 regulations and guidelines.
Professor Kafui KPEGA, Vice President of the University of Lome addressing the audience
In his welcome address, the Centre Director, Prof. Kokou Tona stated that “CERSA graduates arededicated to improving the poultry sector and ready to address its challenges.” Prof. Tona reassured the audience that “CERSA is determined to provide innovative ways of conducting research as well as training focused on solving the problems facing the poultry sector”.
Addressing the former students, Professor Kafui KPEGA, 2nd Vice-President representing the President of the University of Lomé entreated the graduates to be exemplary ambassadors of the center. He said, “You will not only have to represent your center with dignity as its ambassadors in your different countries but also you will have to reflect wherever necessary the requirements of rigor, discipline and skills, credo of our institution. Your actions on the ground should confirm the growing good reputation of the University of Lomé in general and CERSA in particular among academic actors in Africa and elsewhere.”
In his remarks, the President of Alumni CERSA, Mr. Bamela Mawoulom TOKOFAÏ noted that, the Association aims to provide a network of poultry science professionals committed to enhancing the African poultry sector with innovative initiatives. He said, “the vision that drives us is that of a professional network of international reference at the service of quality poultry professional training, open to all and working for the professional integration of graduates, and for sustainable development and the development of all. He further noted that,“the general objective of the network is to facilitate the professional integration and mobility of graduates by putting them in contact with each other in a continuous and mutually enriching way, with partner companies, and to allow them to support and learn about the evolution and innovations of the poultry sector”.
Alumni CERSA has numerous members from 11 countries in East, West and Central Africa including Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Togo.
The Association’s Strategic Plan comprises the official registration of the network, the coordination of activities in all countries where members reside, support to members’ professional progression, the establishment of framework for writing poultry projects and the organization of scientific and/or commercial conferences and symposia.
Also, Secretary General, representing the Minister of Higher Education and Research Prof. Koffi AGBENOTO, urged the members of the association to embark on poultry entrepreneurship, and to initiate innovative projects to become their own employers, and create jobs for other young people.
Authorities present at the ceremony, called on the CERSA graduates to assume a major role in promoting the poultry sector on the continent in a context where imports of poultry products are still heavy in the trade balance of African countries.
CERSA Shares it Activities and Vision with the Group of Francophone Ambassadors based in Togo
The Regional Centre of Excellence for Poultry Sciences (CERSA) hosted by the University of Lomé was introduced to the Group of Francophone Ambassadors based in Togo (GAF Togo) and the Regional Representation of La Francophonie.
The centre’s activities were presented to these diplomats accredited to Togo. The GFA Togo includes the Ambassadors of Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Egypt, France, Gabon, Niger, the DRC and Senegal as well as the Regional Representation of La Francophonie.
According to the Ambassador of Gabon, President of the GFA Togo, Mr. Sayid Abdeloko, this approach allows diplomatic missions to have information on ways and means to promote the poultry sector in their respective countries, with the support of CERSA. “Today, the consumption and supply of poultry products to the population is low and forces our countries to import them from Europe and America. CERSA is an African tool that will support us in the transfer of knowledge and training in poultry. We must look closely at what kind of partnership our countries have, including the ministries of agriculture” said ambassador Sayid Abeloko of Gabon.
Prof. Kokou TONA, Director of CERSA noted that ” We plan to establish agreements and other partnership agreements that will allow us to train Master’s and Doctoral level graduates and professionals to promote the development of the poultry sector in the different countries.”
The Regional Centre for Poultry Sciences (CERSA) aims to train graduates in poultry sciences and professionals in the poultry sector. About 150 Master’s graduates and about 50 PhD students and more than 1200 poultry technicians have been trained by CERSA so far. These poultry science graduates and technicians come from nearly fifteen countries in West and Central Africa.
CDA Collaborates with Partners to Address Food Insecurity
The Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) has collaborated with its partners to address the challenges of food insecurity affecting Nigeria and other African countries. UK based LINKS Program and Silvex International have expressed their unwavering commitment to strengthening their partnership with the CDA by coming up with workable strategies to address the food shortages, which have been exacerbated by climate change.
Commemoration of World Food Day by CDA: The Centre commemorated the 2021 World Food Day with a Symposium titled: Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate: Northern Nigeria in Perspective. World Food Day is celebrated every year on October 16 to commemorate the date of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945. The day is also observed by organizations like World Food Programme and International Fund for Agricultural Development. Since 1981, World Food Day has been celebrated under various themes to highlight the importance of food security, with most of them revolving around agriculture.
The Director of CDA, Professor Jibrin Mohammed Jibrin, in his remarks, said the centre joined the rest of the world to commemorate the day by organizing a symposium to discuss topical issues related to food security in Nigeria. He said the symposium would create awareness of the challenges being faced especially on food security and climate change. CDA invited key stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with solutions that would be beneficial to policymakers and private sector actors to address these challenges.
In his presentation titled: 2021 Growing Season: Forecast, Reality and the Role of NIMET, the Director General of Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Professor Mansur Bako, said the seasonal climate prediction being produced by NIMET is in fulfillment of one of its core mandates. He stated that NIMET monitors weather and climate in Nigeria and provides authoritative meteorological information for sustainable development and safety of life and property.
Professor. Bako, who spoke virtually stated that the wide range of applications of NIMET’s products and services made weather and climate information a relevant input in agriculture and almost all the sustainable development goals, including education.
He said that most states in Nigeria experienced below normal rainfall this year, as had already been predicted by NIMET and communicated to the farmers for them to take appropriate measures.
Presenting an Overview of LINKS/FCDO Climate Smart Agriculture Projects, the Team Lead of the Links Project, Andrew Thorburn said the project aims to transform strategic value chains to improve resilience and reduce climate impact through systems of rice intensification, regenerative agriculture platforms, and sustainable fibre alternatives for cotton.
Speaking on behalf of Silvex International, the Managing Director, Abubakar Usman Adam, mentioned that the company is investing in farm estates for a newly launched program in Jigawa and Nasarawa states which is aimed at bridging the gap in food production efficiency amidst climate change challenges.
CDA Develops Seven (7) New Early Growth Groundnut Seeds for African Farmers
The Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) of Bayero University (BUK) in Kano (Nigeria) has developed seven early growth groundnut seeds for farmers. The centre also unveiled improved seed varieties of sorghum, beans and millet at the centre’s Farmers’ Field Day held on Wednesday, 6th October, 2021.
The Field Day was aimed at showcasing the newly improved seedlings developed by the centre to farmers and extension workers in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.
Several factors have been identified as the reason for the decline in groundnut production in Nigeria such as drought, rosette virus, general neglect of agriculture due to oil boom, and lack of organized input. However, the CDA in collaboration with International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Zaria, and Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation took the challenge to revive the production of groundnut by providing new improved seeds to farmers for sustainable production under the AVISA Project.
According to the Director of CDA, Professor Jibrin Muhammad Jibrin, the new seed varieties are drought resistant and if properly used, will help Nigeria, and by extension, Africa, to achieve food sufficiency.
“The seeds are pests and diseases resistant, grow early and lead to bumper harvests. If these seed varieties are used, farmers have the potential of yielding bigger harvests from the same lands they are using the traditional seed varieties. The groundnut we developed for instance has the dual purpose of more crop yield and bigger leaves that could be used as animal feed,” Professor Jibrin added.
The centre director, Prof. Jibrin M. Jibrin stated that “the centre has already adopted about 22 communities from the university’s neighborhood as models for testing the new seeds.” The Principal Investigator of the Project, Professor Sanusi Gaya Mohammed, in his remarks, said that through their research process, they screen the seeds and come up with those that will be given to seed companies to multiply their production for farmers use.
Professor Mohammed, the Deputy Director of Training at CDA, mentioned that apart from groundnut seeds, the CDA has been supporting the farmers with cowpea, beans, and millet seeds which have significantly improved their yields.
On her part, the Deputy Director, Outreach and Publications, Professor Amina Mustapha, said that the AVISA Project is one of many outreach programmes the centre runs, alongside collaborations with many partners in Nigeria and around the world.
Prof. Mustapha said that the CDA has been engaging its 22 adopted companies with modern agricultural farming methods, empowerment of improved seeds, as well as skills and training that improve their production and expand their awareness. She said the centre would continue to give emphasis to its outreach activities.
The Country Director of ICRISAT, Dr. Hakeem Ajeigbe urged the farmers to critically look at the seeds in order to give their feedback to the researchers. He said it would really benefit the research activities.
Also speaking, Professor Yeye of Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) Zaria, said the AVISA Project aims to improve the research activities through the use of various tools and application to enhance the process. It also aims to provide the seeds to farmers and educate them on the use and application in order to improve the yields.
Others who spoke were Professor Daniel Aba of IAR, Dr. Abou Togola, and Ado Garba from the Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Agency (KNARDA).
Farmers interviewed expressed appreciation to the CDA and its partners for helping with the improved seeds. They expressed optimism that they would adopt the new improved seeds so that the production of groundnut and other crops would be on higher scale in Nigeria.
WACCI spearheads the adoption of game-changing hybrid tomato varieties to ensure sustainable agriculture for the future
Three hybrid tomato varieties (AVTO1866 (Ante Dede), AVTO1870 (Legon Tomato) and AVTO1871 (Tomato Queen)) developed by the World Vegetable Centre, a partner of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) are being considered for release in Ghana following multilocational trials and submission to the National Variety Release and Registration Committee (NVRRC), Ministry of Food and Agriculture by WACCI .
Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, the Director of WACCI, in an address during a visit by the NVRRC to WACCI charged the Government of Ghana to invest in the agriculture commodity value chain to ensure that “game-changing” crop varieties such as these new tomato hybrids get to farmers across Ghana within the shortest possible time. “If you do not invest in the tomato value chain, these varieties will not go to the farmers in good time. That should not be the case”, Prof. Danquah said.
In his address, Mr. Seth Osei-Akoto, Chairman of the NVRRC highlighted how impressed he was with WACCI’s growth over the past years and praised the Centre for these new tomato hybrids but maintained that there still remained the challenge of getting farmers and consumers to accept hybrid tomato varieties. He charged scientists to develop strategies to understand the farmers needs and develop varieties that could meet those demands.
Dr. Leander Dede Melomey, a member of the WACCI hybrid tomato team led the NVRRC delegation to the field to inspect the hybrid tomatoes and later presented research findings from the multi-locational trials the team had conducted. Following rigorous scrutiny, Mr. Osei-Akoto announced that the three hybrid tomato varieties had been approved for recommendation for release and cultivation in the Coastal Savannah regions of Ghana.
In response to the approval of the hybrid tomato varieties, Professor Danquah congratulated the team and charged the Government of Ghana to fast track the ending of food importation by supporting local institutions like WACCI.
The WACCI hybrid tomato team consists of the following: Dr. Agyemang Danquah [Coordinator, Research (Academic Programmes) WACCI], Dr. Leander Dede Melomey (Postdoctoral Fellow, WACCI) and Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah (Director, WACCI).
WACCI Director Calls for ‘More Brains’ to Secure the Future of the Seed Industry
Professor Eric Danquah, Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana has made a call for the training of a critical mass of plant breeders to secure the future of the seed industry in Africa.
This call was made on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, during a visit by H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Board Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), to WACCI.
Accompanying H.E. Desalegn, were Madam Agnes Asiimwe Konde, Vice President, Program Development & Innovation, and Mr. Forster Boateng, West Africa Regional Head among other team members. The visit, was to among others, interact with representatives of the Ghana Early Generation Seed Consortium for Sustainable Production of Quality Seeds. WACCI, is the lead of this consortium which was established to scale up the production of breeder and foundation seeds for maize, soybean, cowpea and groundnut.
Addressing the delegation, Professor Danquah highlighted the benefits of training African plant breeders and seed scientists in Africa in the race against time to eradicate food insecurity by 2030.
“WACCI has one of the highest outputs of PhD graduates in plant breeding education in the world over the past 14 years. It costs significantly less to train our students at home” he said. “Our students have gone on to release improved varieties of staple crops and have raised funds for their research institutions. This is the value of quality plant breeding education in Africa for Africa. Therefore, we must strengthen and replicate the WACCI model across the continent if we want a food-secure Africa”, Prof. Danquah added.
H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, AGRA Board Chair
For his part, H.E. Desalegn commended WACCI for its achievements over the past 14 years in building the necessary human capacity, as well as conducting innovative and impact-driven research needed to drive food security and agricultural development in Africa.
“WACCI is now much more important than ever because of the food challenges facing Africa”, he said.
Madam Konde, in her remarks, also gave high praise to the Centre for its enviable accomplishments over the years in developing human resources and innovations to champion Africa’s green revolution. She called on WACCI, AGRA and other relevant stakeholders to continue to work hard in identifying and eliminating bottlenecks that prevented smallholder farmers from adopting innovations and technologies to fast-track efforts to transform agriculture on the continent.
H.E. Desalegn and Prof Danquah with the WACCI team and AGRA officials