An overview of the first two Days of the ACE Meetings in Djibouti

At least 450 Higher Education stakeholders (representing over 30 nationalities) gathered in Djibouti to attend a string of meetings under the banner of the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project from 18 – 26 February 2019. The various meetings included the Project Steering Committee Meetings for the ACEI Project and the new ACE IMPACT Project, the 10th ACE I workshops and the ACE IMPACT Bootcamp.

On the 18th February 2019 the day zero activities were at the Kempinski Hotel and they focused on the 14th Project Steering Committee Meeting for ACE I and the 1st ACE IMPACT Project Steering Committee Meeting. Here is the 14th ACE I PSC Meeting Agenda (English); 14th ACE I PSC Meeting Agenda (French) and the ACE Impact PSC Meeting Agenda (English)

Day one activities were hosted by the University of Djibouti on the 19th February 2019. 

In his opening remarks, Mr Andreas Blom, ACE IMPACT Task team Leader with the World Bank welcomed all the participants and encouraged them to use the opportunity to engage and learn from their colleagues. He also praised the ACEI institutions for the amazing results that they had achieved to date. The ACE IMPACT Project, valued at over USD350 million, is a result of the success of the ACEI Project. The World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD) in collaboration with the African governments, have conditionally identified 44 ACEs (26 new ones and 18 from ACE I); 5 Emerging Centres; and 5 Colleges and Schools of Engineering for funding through this new phase called “ACE IMPACT”.

Professor Djama Hassan Mohamed, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Djibouti also welcomed all the participants – saying that despite all the problems that abound, the African continent was changing. He called for strong bonds of collaboration between and among the Centres of Excellence. He emphasized the need for universities to actively mentor their students, expose them to quality research and allow them to explore new frontiers of knowledge.

The plenary on “Creating Strong Regional Networks” was chaired by Prof Fahmi Ahmed and facilitated by Gen Xavier Michel. This session exposed the ACE Centers to selected and relevant regional networks that they could learn from or collaborate with.  

Please find links to some files that may be of interest to you

A picture view of participants during the ACEI Meeting at the University of Djibouti on the 19th February 2019
A front-view of participants during the ACEI Meeting at the University of Djibouti on the 19th February 2019

(New Dates) Strengthening the delivery of post-graduate Education in African Universities

Workshop on Innovations in Teaching and Learning

Strengthening the delivery of post-graduate Education in African Universities

Hosted by AquaFish ACE LUANAR & AAU

19-23 November 2018, Lilongwe, Malawi


Registration Link:


Teaching if done properly results in “quality” academic outputs, that is, the graduates and research. The indicators of quality graduates include ability to conduct research, possessing critical thinking skills, ability to facilitate multi-stakeholder engagements, having entrepreneurial skills, ability to make presentations, exhibiting good written and verbal communication skills, having confidence, displaying life-long learning skills and having the ability to synthesize key information, among several other indicators. African Higher Education institutions continue to be challenged to produce graduates that can solve problems and contribute to the development of their countries. This therefore implies that universities must review how they teach and reflect on how their students learn effectively.

Examples of Innovative teaching and learning methods

Confucius, a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher is quoted as having said “I hear and I forget. I see and I believe. I do and I understand”. This statement links very well with the concept of being innovative in teaching. Clearly innovative methods of teaching and learning require a total mindset change in terms of the roles of the professors and the learners. The innovative methods also allow the learning to be two-way. These new ways facilitate practical exposure for students, experiential learning and role-based learning. The new learning solutions and methods thus become student centered with the objective of producing that “quality graduate”. Some examples of innovative teaching and learning methods include:

  1. Flipped Classroom
  2. Role-based learning
  3. Internships in relevant industries and corporate organizations
  4. Problem Solving linked to real Community Engagements
  5. Twinning programs to promote cross-learning
  6. Regional seminars to facilitate sharing of expertise
  7. Case based learning for fields such as medicine and health
  8. Problem based learning
  9. Group work assignments
  10. Field Visits
  11. Technology-assisted learning (mobile, learning management systems, multimedia technologies, etc)

Excellence in Education and Research Capacity and Development Impact

The Disbursement Linked Indicator 2 (DLI 2) under the Africa Centers of Excellence project places emphasis on “excellence in education and research capacity and development impact”. The sub-indicators further expound on “improved teaching and learning environment as per approved proposal”.  The DLI document states that the “implementation plan for each ACE will clearly describe 4 annual main milestones for improving of teaching and learning environment based upon the specific activities to be undertaken by the ACE”. Besides `the creation of conducive physical learning environments through constructing classrooms and equipping of laboratories it is important for the ACEs to articulate how else they are strengthening their teaching delivery methods so that they produce quality graduates.

About the proposed workshop

The Association of African Universities and AquaFish ACE hosted by Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources will deliver a five-day workshop on ‘Innovations in Teaching and Learning’ to spark discussions and understanding how AquaFish ACE is implementing innovative teaching methods and what else they could be doing to improve in this area. The key objectives of the workshop will be to:

  1. Discuss key concepts and case studies on innovative teaching and learning methods
  2. Deliberate on the challenges and opportunities associated with supervising graduate students
  3. Exploring the use of technology to improve teaching delivery methods in African Universities
  4. Participate in learning visits to institutions in Lilongwe that have begun implementing innovative methods of teaching and learning

Draft Program

  1. A broad presentation that lays the ground on key concepts around innovative teaching and learning methods and practices
  2. Hold a brainstorming session in small groups:
    • to discuss why teaching methods need to be reviewed and what to change? This is meant to help in identifying major deficiencies in current higher education delivery by African Universities. This will also discuss the question of “are students graduating from the African Universities adequately trained to respond to the needs of the society?”
    • to discuss the ‘How’ question and share ideas – and suggest proposals to correct the identified deficiencies.
  3. Role play the practical implementation of Experiential Learning
  1. Challenges and Opportunities associated with Supervising Graduate Students in African Universities – (what is quality supervision, students’ expectations, supervisor expectations)
  2. Importance of the student-supervisor relationship and the various factors that influence it.
  3. Strategies to overcome the challenges of a range of supervisory contexts
  4. Developing resources for effective research supervision practices
  1. A presentation on how selected universities in Africa are exploring with technology to improve their teaching delivery methods – e.g. mobile learning, use of learning management systems, etc
  2. Foundational Theories: Review of Relevant Concepts
  3. Principles of E-learning Course Design & Development
  4. Experiential Learning Visit to an institution in Lilongwe that has done well in implementing e-learning

Hands On Sessions : Course / Learning Management Systems


Experiential Learning Visit to an institution in Lilongwe that has done well in implementing e-learning

How To Register

Registration Link:

What are the deadlines?
• Early round registration deadline: 31 December, 2018
• Regular registration deadline: 21 January, 2019
• Late registration: Dependent on space

Workshop Fees– include Workshop Tuition, Workshop Materials, Refreshments and Certificates

  1. USD 500 for staff from AAU Member Institutions
  2. USD 600 for staff from non-AAU Member Institutions
  3. Participants from Malawi must consult the AquaFish ACE for details on their participation Fees (Email:

Contact Details

Association of African Universities: Miss Edith LAARI:

AquaFish ACE: Professor Jeremiah KANG’OMBE:

Download the Workshop flyer: AquaFish-Continental Flyer 


Pre-Announcement – Africa Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Project

Countries Eligible for Participation (Anticipated)

(Other countries may join following the discussions between the World Bank, national governments and other potential financiers)

A. Introduction
The Africa Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) project anticipates the formal launch of a Call for Proposals in June 2018. Eligible higher education institutions from participating countries in West and Central Africa will be encouraged to submit proposals that address a regional Development Challenge through a focused program of postgraduate education and applied research.

This pre-announcement letter has been released to introduce the anticipated project, and to share a draft version of the Call for Proposals so that potential applicants can begin developing their proposals.

B. Objective and Expected Results
The Project development objective is to improve quality, quantity and development impact of postgraduate education in selected universities through regional specialization and collaboration.
The expected results of the proposed project include:

  • Increase in the number of students (with a focus on regional and female students) enrolled and graduating from the masters and PhD programs
  • Improvement in the quality of programs (including increase in number of programs and ACE host institutions that obtain international accreditation, stronger regional and global partnerships)
  • Improvement in the relevance of the trainings and applied research evident through:
    • Increase in amount of externally generated income
    • Increase in number of industry/sectoral partners and stronger commitments from these partners (through funding, internships, advisory board participation, etc.)
  • Increase in regional networks
  • Evidence of substantial development impact attributable to the project.

C. ACE-Impact Components
Proposals may be submitted through the national governments to the ACE Impact project either under the Component 1 or the Component 2 process. Please refer to page 4 for the list of contact persons for each participating country.

(i) Component 1 has two Sub-components: Sub-component 1.1 will provide support to newly established centers of excellence; and Sub-component 1.2 will provide additional support to existing centers with a record of excellence in the ACE I Project. Each Component 1 ACE center will address a regional development challenge through high quality postgraduate education, targeted applied research, and short courses for mid-career professionals. Partnerships with national, regional, and global industry, sectoral actors and academic institutions will ensure that the ACEs focus their activities on the relevant education and research needs to solve specific problems associated with the development challenges.

Approximately ten Component 1 centers are anticipated to be supported in pre-identified thematic sectors, and must respond to specific topical Terms of Reference that will be specified in the formal Call for Proposals. These sectors are expected to include water, ICT, power (energy), urban design, coastal degradation, environmental/social safeguards, math/science education, quantitative economics and health. The Terms of Reference will focus on the training/skills needs as well as some particular research priorities that the centers are expected to address.

A further 15-20 Component 1 centers will be supported in topical areas that address a Development Challenge, but are not subject to pre-identified Terms of Reference.

(ii) Component 2 will provide support to strengthen emerging centers in countries with higher education systems that are not yet mature enough to be competitive under Component 1. This component will provide targeted support to build national undergraduate and postgraduate education and support to engage in regional applied research in thematic areas of regional need. Those institutions supported through Component 2 will be expected to partner with ACEs supported under Component 1 to strengthen regional academic networks and build education and research capacity.

D. Draft Call for Proposals
Attached to this pre-announcement letter is the draft Proposal template. While this draft Proposal template may not be the final version formally released in June, the basic structure and objectives of the Call for Proposals is expected to remain consistent. Those institutions that intend to submit a proposal are encouraged to begin proposal development with the expectation that the broad sections described will remain.

This draft Call for Proposals is focused on Component 1.1 – new Centers of Excellence. Current ACE 1 Centers of Excellence seeking renewed (additional) funding through ACE Impact (Component 1.2) will respond to a similar call but are expected to provide additional content as part of their proposal, including incorporating results from ACE 1 to support the appropriate sections of their proposal. Component 2 proposals may address undergraduate education activities in addition to postgraduate education, while receiving needed regional technical assistance.

(i) Regional Scope
The ACE Impact project is designed to strengthen targeted regional higher education capacity of West and Central Africa. This regional focus is a key element of the project. In responding to the Call for Proposals, institutions should describe how the proposed center serves a regional need, and will grow its regional impact through education and research activities. ACE Impact centers are expected to serve as regional hubs – recruiting students from across the region (30% of center enrollments), building regional partnerships, and conducting applied research on a Development Challenge that is relevant for West and Central Africa.

(ii) Industry/Sectoral Engagement
The active participation of companies and/or sectoral1 stakeholders in defining and assisting in the education and applied research activities for each center is essential to the success of the ACE Impact project. Industry is uniquely positioned to inform each center of the skills needs to advance the sector and what coursework is necessary to prepare students for a rapidly changing workplace. In addition, regional industry actors are well-positioned to inform each center of the applied research needs to effectively support regional industry and to address the most pressing questions associated with the Development Challenges.

Institutions intending to respond to the ACE Impact Call for Proposals must reach out now to potential local, regional, and international industry partners. In addition to helping define the education and research goals of the proposed center, industry is expected to join the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), and to contribute financially to the activities and sustainability of the ACE Impact centers. Evidence of strong commitments and demand from industry/sectoral partners are expected to be submitted (including commitment letters, market surveys, etc.)

(iii) Academic Partnerships
Academic partnerships – national, regional, and global – are encouraged for potential ACE Impact centers, and can be with individual collaborators or at the department/center/institutional level. In the proposal stage, institutions should identify academic partners who commit to collaborate with the center to support its mission. These partnerships may build upon previous collaborations, or may be new and indicate a need or opportunity for the proposed center. Partnerships may: (1) raise the education and research capacity of the proposed center by leveraging the expertise (and/or resources) offered by the partner and that may not exist at the center; (2) increase the capacity of partner institutions in the region to deliver quality education and research; and/or (3) build a network – with specializations among the members – that can raise regional capacity to address a Development Challenge.

E. Evaluation Process
All proposals submitted for Component 1 centers in the ACE Impact project will be evaluated through an open, rigorous, transparent, competitive and merit-based process consistent with international standards for funding centers of excellence. The evaluation process will consist of two sequential steps: Desk Evaluation of the written proposal; and On-site Visit to a short-list of proposed centers. The criteria that will be used to evaluate all proposals will be made available when the formal Call for Proposals is released.

1 Sectoral partners can include relevant public enterprises, Ministries, government agencies, public authorities, chambers of commerce, trade groups, hospitals, policymakers and other appropriate stakeholders.

F. Anticipated Timeline
The formal launch of the Call for Proposals for ACE Impact is expected to occur in June 2018. The Call for Proposals will include details on the evaluation and selection criteria, and again provide a list of national contact points (and, where appropriate, national ACE Impact project websites) for additional information related to the submission of proposals.

Proposals submitted under Component 1 will be due approximately three months after the Call for Proposals is launched (August 2018). The evaluation process is anticipated to be completed in October 2018, with selection of the ACE Impact Centers made by the Project Steering Committee by late October 2018. The formal launch of the ACE Impact Centers is planned for February 2019.

G. Partnerships
The ACE Impact project has sought to establish strategic partnerships with leading international research funding organizations, research performing organizations and national development organizations to strengthen the project. It is anticipated that Agence Française de Développement (AFD) will co-finance ACE centers with the governments and World Bank. Additional higher education and research agencies from France, Germany, Japan, the UK, China, Korea and the USA are expected to support researchers collaborating with the ACE Impact centers.

H. Contact Persons 

Country Contact Person(s) Email
Republic of Burkina Faso Mr Rasmane Kabore
Republic of Cameroon Prof Logmo aaron
Republic of Djibouti Dr Fahmi Ahmed
Republic of Ghana Prof Mohammed Salifu
Mr Edmund Aalangdong
Republic of Guinea Prof Mamadou Saliou Diallo
Republic of Togo Prof Kouami Kokou
Republic of The Gambia Mr Yusupha Touray
Republic of Niger Mme Sabo Haoua Seini
Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr Joshua Atah
Republic of Senegal Prof Amadou Abdoul Sow

Celebrating Academic Excellence in Africa

PRESS RELEASE: Ouagadougou Celebrates Academic Excellence in Africa

22 Centers of Excellence presented their education and applied research programs and innovations to the public

Ouagadougou, 7 May 2018. The very first “Higher Education Student Fair” of the African Centers of Excellence (ACEs) was held today on the campus of the Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. All the 22 ACEs financed by the World Bank and hosted by universities in 9 West and Central African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) attended the event.

This is a great day for Africa, as well as all the ACEs represented here to celebrate academic excellence. The training and research programs presented to the public today demonstrates that we are capable of developing the advanced skills Africa needs to accelerate its development“, said Professor Etienne Ehilé, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities (AAU), the institution responsible for monitoring the implementation of the ACEs and co-organizer of the event.

The research programs presented cover the following areas: (i) genomics and infectious diseases; (ii) water, energy and environment; (iii) agricultural development and environmental sustainability; (iv) cell biology of infectious pathogens; (v) neglected tropical diseases and forensic biotechnology; (vi) crop improvement; (vii) phytomedicine and development; (viii) reproductive health and innovation; (ix) mathematical sciences and applications; (x) oilfield chemicals; (xi) water and sanitation; (xii) poultry sciences; (xiii) information and communications technology; (xiv) maternal and child health; (xv) dryland agriculture; (xvi) food technology; (xvii) statistics; (xviii) climate change; (xix) mining; and (xx) materials science and engineering.

Each of the 22 ACEs is regionally unique. They aim to support the emergence of regional poles of excellence within higher education and applied research. The centers seek to produce a critical mass of high-level specialists at the Masters and PhD levels as well as providing short term professional training to professionals seeking to improve their skills. These programs are focused on producing the skills needed to address regional development challenges in areas such as water, agriculture, health, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Our programs meet the international standards and our students come from all over Africa. At the end of their training, they are competitive, innovative and immediately access the job market, thus reflecting our slogan of “One diploma, one job”, said Professor Harouna Karambiri, hydro-climatologist and Coordinator of CEA-2iE.

In opening the Fair, Mr. Cheick Fantamady Kanté, World Bank Country Manager for Burkina Faso highlighted the innovative aspect of the ACEs: “The African Centers of Excellence project that we support is one of the most innovative projects aimed at providing Africa with the technical know-how necessary to meet its many development challenges”.

I am happy to be here and expect to interact with students and other visitors on the key achievements of our center. Our team is happy to present to the public our high-ranking Master’s and PhD programs which are contemporary, comprehensive and up to date on reproductive health”, said Dr. Mrs. O.E. Obarisiagbon, PhD student at the Center of Excellence on Reproductive Health Innovation, at University of Benin, Nigeria.

Several actors of the academia (including students), the private sector, industry, civil society, and others visited the Fair to discover the research areas covered by the ACEs and to explore opportunities for effective partnerships: “I heard about the centers of excellence and came to find out what programs are available to help me make the best choice for my Master’s studies,” says Hassane Koumare, a third-year undergraduate physics student from Mali who visited the Fair.

For Mr. Andreas Blom, Lead Economist and Task Team Leader for the ACE project at the World Bank, the ACEs are achieving good results and are being successful in attracting more students from the region. He commends its ownership by all stakeholders and indicates the next steps: “Currently, the ACEs have developed more than 15 programs that are accredited and meet international standards. In addition, the ACEs have developed 35 new programs that have already attracted about 6,000 students in Master’s and 1,600 PhD students; of these, 3,000 are regional students”. We are encouraged by the strong ownership of the ACEs at institutional, national and regional levels and we are taking steps to move to the next level to support the creation of new centers of excellence and provide additional financing to scale up on some of the existing ones that are already glowing at regional and international level”.

The African Centers of Excellence initiative is a flagship program supported by the World Bank that is providing an innovative regional response to make higher education more relevant to Africa’s development. With a total investment of $165 million, the project offers an optimal way to build regional specialization, concentrate limited top-level faculty, generate spillovers and meet private sector demand for technical skills.

You can download the following:

  1. Press Release in French – ACE Higher Education Fair
  2. Address by the AAU Secretary General in French


For more information, please contact:

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