CEA MS4SSA and UNHCR Forge Strategic Partnership to Empower Nigerian Refugees in Niger

In a concerted effort to bolster inclusive higher education in Africa, the Emerging Center for Teaching and Learning Mathematics and Science in sub-Saharan Africa (CEA MS4SSA) has joined forces with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to enhance the educational prospects of Nigerian refugees in the city of Diffa, Niger.

With funding support from the World Bank Group, French Development Agency, and governments of the 11 participating countries, and with implementation support from the Association of African Universities (AAU), the ACE Impact project, is designed to strengthen the capacities of participating universities to deliver high-quality training and research. ACE Impact aims to address specific regional development challenges, with CEA MS4SSA focusing on improving mathematics and science education in sub-Saharan Africa.

More specifically, the partnership between CEA MS4SSA and the UNHCR is a direct response to the long-standing challenge of extremely low refugee enrollment in higher education institutions in Africa. According to a UNHCR report published in 2023, only one out of 10 global refugees who have attained the university-going age range of between 18 and 24 years, get access to higher education. The report further attributes the worrying situation of refugees’ limited access to higher education partly to the general perennial problem of inadequate space in higher education institutions in Africa. Additionally, several inherent factors, including the lack of academic certification for admission into higher education institutions and the low numbers of graduating secondary school refugee students all impede refugees’ access to higher education. To tackle this challenge, the collaboration between CEA MS4SSA and UNHCR has initiated short-term vocational training programmes, as an alternative educational pathway of building the knowledge and skills of the teeming refugee population to become competitive in their quest to access higher education and in the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st-century job market.

On its part under the partnership agreement, CEA MS4SSA trained and certified Nigerian refugee teachers in practical laboratory experiments in physics, chemistry, and life and earth sciences, covering the trainers’ living expenses.

Some Nigerian refugee participants of the CEA MS4SSA-UNHCR training undergoing practical sessions
Some Nigerian refugee participants of the CEA MS4SSA-UNHCR training undergoing practical sessions

The UNHCR, on the other hand, bore the transportation and accommodation costs of trainers outsourced from Niamey as well as provided training kits, among others, to facilitate the training sessions. These training sessions have equipped refugee teachers to deliver practical science education to secondary school students, enhancing their preparation for further studies and academic success.

The CEA MS4SSA and UNHCR partnership also set up examination centers close to refugee students living with their parents in the Diffa region to ensure they successfully take their end-of-year and other relevant examinations under acceptable conditions and enhance their chances of success. The training sessions, which encompassed the physical, life, and earth science areas, generally gave participants insights into how to set up and carry out practical experiments using conventional equipment, how to use digital and analogue measuring equipment and interpret the results of experiments, and how to design and make contextualized teaching materials from available local materials.

Some participants of the CEA MS4SSA-UNHCR training
Some participants of the CEA MS4SSA-UNHCR training

The immediate outcome of this thoughtful and timely intervention is evidenced in the record 73.29% pass rate the refugee students chalked in their Science Baccalaureate exam, which is equivalent to the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in the Nigerian educational system. By arming refugee students with valuable knowledge and skills, this initiative not only improves their prospects for higher education but also empowers them to contribute meaningfully to their communities. Looking ahead, expanding the scope of training programs and forging additional partnerships are essential for sustaining and scaling these efforts, ensuring greater integration of refugees into the African higher education landscape and reducing their susceptibility to joining extremist groups.

As the ACE Impact project approaches its conclusion in June 2025, CEA MS4SSA remains committed to exploring future opportunities for collaboration within the higher education sector. By continuing to promote educational inclusion and excellence, CEA MS4SSA aims to positively impact the lives of refugees and foster a brighter future for all.

Combating cybercrime: ACETEL partners Digital Footprints to train security personnel

The Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) has partnered Digital Footprints, a digital forensics and cybersecurity services provider in Nigeria, to train security personnel in digital forensic and incident response. 

The five-day training took place from Monday, June 19th to Friday, June 23rd, 2023, at the headquarters of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), ACETEL’s host university, in Abuja. 

Necessitated by a two-decade radical adoption in important aspects of national life—from Banking to e-Governance to e-elections—, the training aimed at equipping participants with essential knowledge, skills, and tools to identify, investigate, and respond to digital incidents, according to the Chief Executive Officer for Digital Footprints Limited, Dr. Tombari Sibe. 

Dr. Tombari Sibe, CEO Digital Footprints, taking participants on a course at the training centre
Dr. Tombari Sibe, CEO Digital Footprints, taking participants on a course at the training centre

“As cybercrime increases with the use of technology, it is important that as a nation we prepare our public and private sectors for the highly sophisticated world of cybersecurity. This is the reason ACETEL and Digital Footprints have put together this course to equip participants with the necessary skillset both as human and corporate entities to be able to stand up to the emerging threat.

“Practically inclined as we [Digital Footprints] are, we have made it [the course] practically oriented, using some of the best tools in the world and hands-on practice,” Dr Sibe reassured. 

In a speech made on his behalf by his deputy, the Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters reckoned an increasing threat of cybercrime in Nigeria. He emphasized the importance of empowering security personnel with digital forensic tools to curb the menace, hence the need for the training. 

“Cybercrimes are becoming increasingly alarming these days; hence, there is a need for software or methodology to arrest the situation. Digital forensics is inevitable if the law enforcement investigation today is going to be meaningful,” he concluded. 

Director, ACETEL, Prof. Grace Jokthan, giving her welcome address at the opening ceremony
Director, ACETEL, Prof. Grace Jokthan, giving her welcome address at the opening ceremony

Prof Peter’s sentiment was shared by his colleague Prof. Grace Jokthan, ACETEL’s Director. For Prof Jokthan, as cyber threats continued to evolve and challenge the security of people, organizations, and nations, it had become non-negotiable for guardians of the digital world to stay one step ahead and be armed with the knowledge, tools, and techniques to safeguard digital assets and preserve the integrity of evidence. 


“The training delved into the fascinating world of cyber investigation whereby we explored its such aspects as evidence connection, preservation, analysis, and effective management of cyber incidence. 

“Together, we navigated through real-life scenarios and examined the latest trends and challenges in the field. With these insights, participants, including National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Company (NDIC); Defence Research and Development Bureau (DRDB), Presidential Amnesty Programme, and the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Technology, should be better equipped to handle digital incidents, identify potential vulnerabilities, and mitigate future risks,” Prof. Jokthan said—optimistically. 

ACETEL is one of the 53 World Bank-funded Africa Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact), which aim to enhance the quality and quantity of higher education on the continent. To support ACE Impact’s overall goal, ACETEL is developing human capacity and research to use technology to aid education. For more information on ACETEL and its activities, please visit the website. 

ACE in Focus- Profiling the Africa Centre of Excellence for Mother and Child Health (CEA-SAMEF), Senegal

Written by Millicent Afriyie

The Africa Centre of Excellence for Mother and Child Health, hosted by the University of Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in Senegal, is one of the 53 centres of excellence supported with funding from the World Bank to enhance capacities in post-graduate training and applied research. CEA-SAMEF specializes in training and research in Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition and Public Health. Given the increased ratio of maternal and child mortality in the region (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reports that Sub-Saharan Africans suffer from the highest maternal mortality ratio –200,000 maternal deaths a year), the role of CEA-SAMEF in addressing this challenge cannot be overestimated.

The centre, since its inception has been instrumental in offering quality training in Maternal and Child health as well as publishing impactful research in this area and making impact both nationally and continentally. To date, at least 453 students have been trained by CEA-SAMEF. Of these, 89 are MSc students trained in Public Health, Child Health and Survival, Clinical research, Pediatric Dentistry, Maternal and Child Nutrition while 296 accounts for the total number of PhD students in Public Health and Nutrition and Human Food, among other programmes.

The center has also provided short-term programmes in the areas of Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care, Post-Abortion Care, Contraceptive Technology, Resuscitation and Pediatric Emergencies offered to health professionals. Currently, over 68 health professionals have received training from the centre. Notably, a total of162 students have also benefitted from practical internship opportunities.

With the aim of improving maternal and child health care and delivery, CEA-SAMEF has published diverse research which has contributed to knowledge and made impactful breakthroughs in Senegalese communities and across the sub-region. These developmental research include Implementation and evaluation of a method for the diagnosis and early management of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Senegal; Control of hepatitis E in pregnant women: preclinical development of a lentivirus vaccine; Prevention of maternal and child malnutrition during the first 1000 days of life in rural areas in Kaffrine, Senegal; Genetic determinism of uterine fibroids in pregnant women in Senegal, among others. Over 31 works by the centre have been published in peer-reviewed and international journals.

To expand its activities, the centre has forged strategic partnership with organizations and other academic institutions to strengthen its work towards quality maternal and childcare within the region. These partnerships also provide a pathway towards project sustainability and continuity. Some of the centre’s partners include PATH, a Washington state nonprofit corporation, the University of Florence in Italy, the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Guinea-Bissau, among others. These partnerships have resulted in the training of health workers, conduction of research to explore ways to curb maternal and child mortality within the sub-regions as well as generating external revenue for the sustainability of the centre. For instance, the UNICEF-CEA-SAMEF partnership is engineering the training of health workers in Guinea-Bissau, while the PATH collaboration seeks to accelerate the availability, adoption, and scale-up of tools to identify severe illness and decrease mortality in children under five years of age in Senegal through collaborative research between both partners. Also, over 30 staff members of the centre have benefited from the staff mobility partnership with the University of Florence. Through these partnerships and other innovative strategies adopted, the centre so far has generated over US$ 320,000 in funds to support its activities.

More importantly, in deepening its community engagements, many inhabitants of Dakar and its environs have benefitted from free health screening conducted by the centres. Over 2000 Senegalese received free screenings on urinary tract infections in children, anemia in adolescents and children, breast, and cervical cancer in women, among others. In addition, the centre operates a mobile clinic serving over 300 people through the provision of free medical assessments such as high blood pressure and sugar levels as well as providing medical guidance and counselling to patients.

Visit http://ceasamef.sn/ to learn more about CEA-SAMEF




The Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) was established in February 2019 and is located at the headquarters of the National Open Universityty of Nigeria (NOUN), Jabi, Abuja, Nigeria. The centre is one of 54 supported under the World Bank ACE Impact project, receiving support from the Association of African Universities, and National Universities Commission (NUC), Nigeria. The Centre focuses on the development of human capacity and research in digital solutions that will lead to the utilisation of technology for education and its deployment to other sectors. 

The centre hopes to bridge the technical knowledge gap by building capacity in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), Cyber Security and Digital policies to achieve high levels of digital development on the African continent. 

Why is ACETEL special? 

ACETEL programmes are designed to build capacity in Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Security, and Management Information Systems courses at the postgraduate levels leading to the production of highly skilled human resource to drive the adoption and use of ICT solutions. It also offers short courses to bridge technology knowledge gaps.  

Its core values are: 


Specifically, the ACETEL research focuses on gaps, needs assessment of digital capacity development, solutions, and policy issues in the education and public sectors; effectiveness of green logistics information technology learning tools on students’ academic achievement in STEM-related courses; developing smart digital learning tools for science in Open and Distance Education; impact of Cybercrime on Learners’ Academic Performance and Research Data Integrity; and enhancing postgraduate learners’ research skills using cloud computing learning tools.   

In 2021, 41 students gained admission into ACETEL. These students comprised of both national and regional students, 11 females and 30 males students enrolled from The Gambia, Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda.  

ACE in Focus- Profiling CEFTER

ACE in Focus- Profiling CEFTER

The Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER), hosted by the Benue State University, Nigeria is one of the seven (7) centres of excellence dedicated to addressing agriculture related challenges within the region. CEFTER aims to address the challenge of post-harvest losses in the West Africa sub region through quality higher education and innovative and applied research. 

The centre seeks to develop a critical mass of well-trained future African agricultural scientists in the control of post-harvest losses, empower African researchers to identify technologies through applied research for reducing pot-harvest losses and engage farmers, communities, and industries in training and dissemination of technologies in post-harvest food losses across the sub-region. 

Programmes offered include Post-harvest Management and Physiology of Crops; Food Chemistry; Analytical Chemistry; Organic/ Natural Products Chemistry; Food Science and Technology; Food Processing Technology; Rural Sociology and Agricultural Extension; Radiation and Medical Physics. Three programmes are internationally accredited by the High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES).  

CEFTER is well positioned to offer quality postgraduate education with its state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories, ultramodern library and fully furnished hostels.  The centre also has a food processing factory facilitating the Government of Nigeria’s School Feeding Program which caters for 1.8 million pupils monthly. 

For more information, visit https://www.cefterbsu.edu.ng/ 

Profiling the Centre of Excellence for Environment and Mining (CEA-EMIG)

Profiling the Centre of Excellence for Environment and Mining (CEA-EMIG) in Niger

The Centre of Excellence for Environment and Mining (CEA-EMIG) is one of the 53 Africa Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) in West Africa.  CEA-EMIG is hosted by the School of Mines, Industry and Geology in Niamey, Niger. As part of the centres specialized in the thematic area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the EMIG has Mining and Environment as its primary focus areas with special interest in Geology, Civil, Industrial and Electrical Engineering.  

CEA- EMIG seeks to be one of Africa’s leading training hubs in environment and mining, providing high quality training to address regional challenges in Africa. The centre delivers specialized training in Minerals Extraction and Processing, Environment and Waste Management, Mining Safety, Restoration and Rehabilitation of Mining Sites and Management of Water, Soil and Noise, among others. These trainings are available in Bachelors, Masters, and short-term programmes. In addition, the center focuses on providing improved teaching and learning through regular availability of training of trainers’ programmes for faculty, and the promotion of applied research through university-industry linkages. 

The centre has conducted transformative research in validation of a natural material for sealing uranium processing discharge ponds, Geochemistry and Remote Sensing applied to the study of metal pollution of the environment by mine tailings, and Optimization of gold panning techniques and reduction of environmental impacts. With its ultra-modern classrooms and laboratories, as well as innovative teaching staff, the centre is committed to equipping students with the necessary skills and expertise required by industries as well as the applied knowledge to meet the demand skills for Africa’s development. The centre also provides a serene learning atmosphere and environment for students by providing accommodation and recreational facilities. Currently, there are 54 students enrolled under the project – 22 Masters and 32 Bachelors. 

To achieve its objectives, CEA-EMIG has collaborated with various institutions within and outside the region. Notable among these are the Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey (Niger);  Institut Catholique Polytechnique Saint Jérôme de Douala (Cameroon); University of Lomé (Togo); National Polytechnic Institute Félix HOUPHOUET BOIGNY; National School of Mineral Industries of Rabat (Morocco); International Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering 2iE; Polytechnic School of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) and the University of EXETER (England). The centre is also part of the “Responsible Mining Activity and Sustainable Development Network”(RAMR2D) of the ACE Impact Thematic Network project. In strengthening its engagement with industry, EMIG has renewed its partnership through an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Société des Mines de l’Air (SOMAIR). The partnership has resulted in joint publication and implementation of research, internship opportunities for EMIG students, use of EMIG laboratories, and experts in carrying out SOMAIR activities.

Works of EMIG have received utmost recognition through awards such as the International Prize on Innovative works in Earth Sciences and Civil Engineering by the Vinci Construction, a global leader in the mining and construction industry. Again, in 2020 EMIG placed second in the world and first in Africa at The Trail Students Challenge also organized by Vinci Construction. 506 teams from 78 countries across the globe participated in the competition.  


For more information on CEA-EMIG visit their website here  

Follow CEA Impact Mining Environment on Facebook 


FUTMINNA MANAGEMENT COMMENDS Africa Centre of Excellence for Mycotoxin and Food Safety (ACEMFS) 

The Management of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State Nigeria has commended the Africa Centre of Excellence for Mycotoxin and Food Safety (ACEMFS), FUT, Minna for its achievements so far. The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Abdullahi Bala, gave the commendation recently while receiving a team from ACEMFS led by the Centre Leader, Prof. Hussaini Makun who gave a presentation on the centres activities and achievements. 

The Vice-Chancellor stated that the presence of the Centre, has improved the ranking especially in the area of post graduate programmes as the Centre has international students. Prof. Bala praised the doggedness of ACEMFS highlighting its commitment to work and assured of Management’s continuous support for the project. While commending and congratulating the relentless efforts of ACEMFS, he urged the Centre to do more in the area of short courses and accreditations which will boost its earnings. 

Earlier, Centre Leader, Prof. Hussaini Makun in his presentation on the activities and achievements of the Centre so far expressed appreciation to the University Management for their support at all times and assured of continuous commitment to the project. Prof. Makun disclosed that ACEMFS, FUT, Minna has earned a total sum of $1,668,880 in the last two years, making her the 3rd and 7th performing Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Nigeria and Africa respectively. Other achievements by ACEMFS, he disclosed, include appointment of the Centre Leader as a member of the National Food Safety Advisory Committee, an indication of the centres strong industrial link. 

He added that the Centre has also led a consortium of three ACEs to win the Association of African Universities grant of $100,000 for the establishment of West African Food Safety Network (WAFOSAN), while four of her students are on West Africa Network of infectious Diseases ACE (WANIDA) scholarship and ACEMFS is one of the centres that have fully adopted the online training mode using FUT, Minna based Google classroom and lectures are ongoing with members of International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), Sectoral Advisory Board (SAB) and faculties within the University amongst other achievements. 

The Deputy Centre Leader, Dr. Hadiza Muhammad, in her presentation disclosed that a total of 87 students were enrolled in the Centre for the 2019/2020 session, out of which 27 are international students from various African countries and Britain. The African countries include Ghana, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Niger Republic and Nigeria. The students, she said, received online lectures and have supervisors from Belgium, Italy, India, South Africa, United States and other partner institutions in Nigeria, mainly University of Abuja and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and others. 

On her part, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and Nanotechnology Research Theme Leader, Dr. Mercy Bankole said that the researchers in the Centre are performing well and their publications have increased the Centre’s earnings. She also revealed that the total earnings so far by the centre is 28% of the first year, effective from 2021. 

Dr. Bankole took the Management team through the indicators known as Disbursement Link Indicators (DLI), which showed how the centres earn from various activities ranging from institutional readiness, development impact of ACE, quality of students, short courses, programme accreditation, internship, teaching and research infrastructure, external revenue, research publications and entrepreneurship.  

At the end of the presentation, the VC, as mandated by the project, appointed the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Faruk Adamu Kuta as the DLI 7 Officer to work closely with the Centre to execute the institutional impact aspect. DLI 7 is the institutional impact which is controlled by the Vice- Chancellors. 

ACEMFS, FUT, Minna is one of the World Bank funded centres of Excellence, which aims at creating learning opportunities and research results that will address Africa’s shortage of expertise in food safety and applicable solutions to ensure the safe, controlled and sufficient food supply that will support economic growth and public health, particularly in West and Central Africa. 

Centre Leader; ACEMFS, Prof. Hussaini Makun making a presentation to FUT, Minna Principal Officers.

Centre Leader; ACEMFS, Prof. Hussaini Makun making a presentation to FUT, Minna Principal Officers.By: Dorothy Elaigu. 

WACCI Holds its Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

WACCI Holds its Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

Day One of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

Day One of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) held its Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop from May 16 – 22, 2021 at the Peduase Valley Resort, Eastern Region. The purpose of the workshop was to review key strategic decisions for the sustainability of the Centre and to develop clear roadmap to achieving this objective. 

Twenty-five participants comprising associate faculty members from the Departments of Crop Science, Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness, and the Biotechnology Centre, University of Ghana (UG), as well as administrative and management staff of the Centre participated in the workshop. Other invited guests who engaged the participants include Professor Felix Asante (Pro-Vice Chancellor – Office of Research, Innovation and Development, UG), Professor Mohammed Salifu (Director General – Ghana Tertiary Education Commission), Dr Sylvia Mkandawire (Programme Manager – African Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact) and Professor Gordon Awandare (Founding Director – West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens). Representatives from three agribusinesses, the Legacy Crop Improvement Centre (LCIC), KOD Farms and Weddi Africa Limited, were also present to outline their plans for win-win public-private collaborations with the Centre. 

The Director of WACCI, Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah in his remarks stressed on the need for WACCI to continue to strategize and evolve in order to meet its aspirations.  

Prof Eric Danquah giving his opening remarks on the first day of the workshop
Prof Eric Danquah giving his opening remarks on the first day of the workshop


“We have come a long way. WACCI turns fourteen this year thus it is imperative that we have a solid strategy to drive the Centre and its activities forward”, he said.  

Professor Salifu and Dr Sylvia Mkandawire in their remarks commended WACCI for all its achievements and continuous efforts in changing the narrative of agriculture and food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa. Professor Salifu congratulated the Centre on being one of the most successful Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs) and emphasized the need for the Government of Ghana to use ACEs as entry points for a complete shift in postgraduate education in Ghana and to foster collaboration instead of competition.  Professor Asante acknowledged WACCI’s contribution to alleviating food and nutrition insecurity in the sub-region and enhancing the global visibility of the University of Ghana. He pledged the University of Ghana’s support in creating sustainable environments for the Africa Centres of Excellence to continue to thrive.  

The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID), University of Ghana – Professor Felix Asante
The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID), University of Ghana – Professor Felix Asante

Professor Gordon Awandare, the Director of the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) delivered a talk on the topic: Creating and Sustaining a Globally Competitive Ecosystem for Research Excellence. He said that universities were the best places to build sustainable research capacities. He added that the recent major capacity building initiatives like the ACE Impact project were signs of hope for a rising Africa. 

The week-long workshop featured several updates from the Centre’s academic and administrative staff. These included updates from current faculty and postdoctoral fellows on their research, donor activities, communications strategy, human resources & administration, sectoral and industry partnerships, and Information & Technology infrastructure.  


WACCI was established in 2007 as a partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell University, USA with funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to train African students on African crops in Africa for Africa. Since its inception, the Centre has enrolled 149 PhD students in Plant Breeding and 65 MPhil students in Seed Science and Technology out of which 95 and 30 have graduated respectively.  In 2015, WACCI was selected as one of the first Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) by the World Bank. In 2019, the Centre was selected as one of the winners of the World Bank ACE Impact project grant. Under this new project, WACCI is charting a new path to becoming an “African Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” 

For more information, visit the WACCI website: https://wacci.ug.edu.gh/. 

Facebook: West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement 

Twitter: @wacci_gh 

LinkedIn: West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement  

Final Day of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategy Planning Workshop
Final Day of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategy Planning Workshop


The Centre’s women in agricultural science striking a pose
The Centre’s women in agricultural science striking a pose

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: adelamou@cea-pcmt.org

Deputy Center Leader: Dr. Mariame Sadjo DIALLO

Email address: nenettediallo@yahoo.fr


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.

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