PRESS RELEASE: Launch of Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) for Development Impact Project


Accra, Ghana, September 4, 2018The third phase of the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) for Development Impact Project (or ACE Impact Project) was launched on August 31, 2018. The ACE Impact Project seeks to improve the quality, quantity and development impact of postgraduate education (defined to include Masters and PhD degrees, and short-term professional level courses and training) in selected universities through regional specialization and collaboration.  Institutions from the following West and Central African countries are eligible to apply: Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Republic of Cameroon, Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Djibouti, Republic of Ghana, Republic of Guinea, Republic of Niger, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Senegal, Republic of The Gambia, and the Republic of Togo.

The project would focus on establishing new ACEs and scaling-up well-performing ones from the first phase (ACE I). It would also foster regional partnerships for emerging centres and regional scholarships as well as enhance regional project facilitation, and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E).

The thematic areas to be addressed by the ACE for Development Impact project are; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Health and Agriculture. In addition, priority would be given to key areas such as Coastal Degradation; Digital Development; Education Training and Leadership; Social Risk Management; Nursing; Power; Public Procurement; Public Policy and Quantitative Skills; Transport; Urban Design; and Water.

A ‘Call for Proposals’ was issued on August 31, 2018 on the ACE website ( to encourage interested institutions in the above- mentioned countries to apply. Proposals received will be evaluated in a competitive process.

“The launch of the Africa Centres of Excellence for Development Impact Project confirms the good work done by the Centres in the first phase (ACE I) of the Project. As ACE I made productive strides in solving developmental challenges on the continent, we look forward to achieving greater and impactful milestones in this third phase. I would also encourage eligible institutions to apply and help develop the advanced skills Africa needs to accelerate its socio-economic development.” said the Secretary General of the Association of African Universities (AAU), the Regional Facilitation Unit for the ACE I and ACE for Development Impact Projects.

About ACE Project

The Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) project is an innovative regional response to making higher education more relevant to Africa’s development. It aims to strengthen the capacity of participating universities to offer training and undertake high-quality applied research to address the continent’s development challenges. 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.

ACE I started in 2014 and will come to an end on 31st December 2019 while the ACE Impact will commence in 2019 and will run for the next five years.



Prof. Jonathan Mba

+233-30-277-4495 / 761588






African Centres of Excellence participate in MEL Workshop

As monitoring and evaluation plays a pivotal role in the ACE Project, some Centres under the Project participated in the maiden Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) workshop organized by the Association of African Universities (AAU) in collaboration with the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA). The event saw participants from the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), Pan African Materials Institute (PAMI),  African Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development (ACEPRD), Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER), Centre for Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI) and the Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre Kumasi (RWESCK).


The workshop focused on articulating the background and history of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning systems in project management, public policy and development management; applying concepts, principles, processes and frameworks for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning systems in African Institutions; developing a system to collect, compile and use data for decision making; using Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning systems in African Institutions.



WACCI Commissions multi-purpose building to aid Research and Development

The West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), one of the Centres under the African Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project hosted by the University of Ghana on August 24, 2018 commissioned its new multi-purpose office. The edifice was constructed with funds from the World Bank through the ACE Project.

The building was officially inaugurated by the Minister of Finance Mr. Ken Ofori-Attah and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu.

In his address, the Mr. Ken Ofori-Attah commended WACCI for its efforts towards transforming agriculture in Ghana. He noted that, the Centre’s contribution of agriculture to the Ghanaian economy could not be underestimated hence “makes it heart-warming to see this multipurpose building being commissioned”

Also present was the World Bank Country Manager for Ghana, Dr. Henry Kerali, who also applauded WACCI for a good job done. He said, “We are very proud to be associated with this Project. The foremost Centre in Post graduate training and research in Africa.” He also highlighted some major achievements of ACE Project saying, 6500 MSc and 1600 PhD graduates with 25% regional representations as well as 17000 short term courses. He also hinged on International and national accreditations received by the ACEs and external revenue generated to ensure the sustainability of the Project.

He further commended WACCI for its singular success stating, International Accreditation of the Centre’s programmes, its enormous publications and partnerships with other institutions and corporate bodies. He urged the Centre to implement policies and programmes to attract more regional students and female students

Speaking at the event, Miss Nodumo Dhlamini who led the AAU team on behalf of the Secretary General noted that, “the African Centres of Excellence Project places emphasis on results and the commissioning of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement Multipurpose Building is one of the key results of the ACE project being implemented by WACCI.” As the Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) for the Project, the Association of African Universities (AAU) commended the efforts of the government of Ghana and the World Bank as well as AAU’s immense support to the Project.

The West African Centre for Crop Improvement is one of the twenty- two Centres of Excellence under the World Bank funded ACE Project. The Centre seeks to address the challenges of the agricultural sector in Africa, with a further aim of improving the socio-economic growth of the continent. Since its inception in 2007, WACCI has grown to become the largest PhD warding Center in Plant breeding in Africa with 66 PhD graduates.

Other dignitaries present was the Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Ghana Dr Sagre Bambang, World Bank Ghana representative for the ACE Project Mrs. Eunice Ackwerh as well as stakeholders of the Academic Community, students and well wishers.


Obituary Kofi Annan 1938 – 2018


The Secretary General of the Association of African Universities (AAU) on behalf of the Governing Board and African Universities, expresses our profound shock at the passing of Ghana’s Nobel Peace Laureate and her finest international diplomat of all-time, Busumru Dr. Kofi Annan, which sad event occurred in the early hours of Saturday, August 18, 2018 in Berne, Switzerland. He was 80.

A highly respected global statesman, Kofi Annan led a life concentrated on the pursuit of a just and peaceful society. Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938, Mr. Annan studied at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in the United States in 1961 before undertaking his graduate studies in economics at the Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales in Geneva. As a 1971- 1972 Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Annan received a Master of Science degree in management.

Kofi Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization in Geneva from where he rose through the ranks to the highest position of Secretary-General of United Nations for two terms, spanning 1997 to 2006.

The Association of African Universities extends its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and commiserates with Ghana, Africa and the United Nations on this sad event. In compliance with the directive from the Government of Ghana, the flags of AAU would fly at half-mast for one-week beginning Monday 20th August, 2018 in honour of a man known for his humility, nobility and love for peace.

While mourning the passing of this global icon, the AAU pledges to uphold Kofi Annan’s virtues and celebrate him for living a life worth emulating. May his soul find eternal rest.

Call for Participation| 5th Pan African School of Materials (PASMAT)

The Pan African Materials Institute (PAMI),one of the Centres under the World Bank funded ACE Project warmly invites all including students and faculty in Material Sciences to its fifth Pan African School of Materials (PASMAT V) and Second Mathematics and Science for Sub Sahara Africa (MS4SSA II) from August 19- 25, 2018 and August 19 – September 1, 2018 respectively at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST) campus| Abuja, Nigeria.

For further enquiries, interested participants should visit




Call for Abstract and Participation

The Africa Center of Excellence for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) hosted by Benue State University, Nigeria calls for Abstract and participation in its West and Central Africa Post- Harvest Congress and Exhibition (WCAPHCE 2018) themed “Upscaling of Post Harvest activities in West and Central Africa” from September 17- 21, 2018 at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, Nigeria.

This Congress seeks to enumerate constrains and proffer solutions to post harvest challenges along the value chain for various crops and also promote knowledge in addressing the food system for healthy and sustainable diets.

All individuals and industries in the Agriculture and Food Technology sector are warmly invited to participate. For Registration and other details please contact Dr. Sylvester Adejo via email or  +234(0)80545557652

Others who are interested in exhibiting their products should also contact the number below by 31st August, 2018.

Peter Dawa
+234(0)706 796 7665

3rd WACCBIP Research Conference

The West Africa Center for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) hosted its third annual Research Conference from July 18 – 20, 2018 at its new office complex in the University of Ghana.

The Conference which aims to showcase the talent and quality of young African scientists and to provide a platform for the dissemination of research conducted by fellows at the Centre and by visiting scientists from its global network of collaborators.

The three-day conference held under the theme “Translating Molecular Research into Healthcare Solutions for Africa”, brought together world-class scientists from Africa, Europe, and North America, who conduct research into tropical diseases, including malaria and Buruli ulcer, that are prevalent in Africa. The conference afforded young scientists at the Centre the opportunity to interact with seasoned scientists, giving them better insight into their research projects and opening them up to new perspectives from experienced researchers.

In his welcome address, Director of WACCBIP, Prof. Gordon Awandare, explained that the Centre was established with the vision to build and support development of dynamic and internationally competitive talent. He reiterated the Centre’s commitment towards the provision of high-end facilities suitable for advanced training and research and cited the construction of the new WACCBIP building as one of the key achievements towards reaching the Centre’s overarching goal.

He also highlighted the achievements of the Centre saying, “Since we started, we have given fellowships to 90 master’s students, 50 PhD students, and 12 postdocs. That is the largest biomedical training research programme in West Africa. Nobody has done that in the last four years.”

He further entreated Government to provide incentives to encourage the creation of research units in the private sector to absorb the pool of research scientists produced by research institutions across the country.

Also speaking at the event, Professor Keith Gull, Professor at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford and Chair of the WACCBIP International Advisory Board, was impressed with WACCBIP’s sustained development of its research and training activities since its establishment.

He explained that WACCBIP’s vision does not end at training scientists but extends to ensuring that their training is translated to relevant research output for the future.“It has always been the vision of WACCBIP and the Department to balance research and teaching, and that is really a critical part of a research-led education. Some of you are here for a degree; a master’s or a PhD. I think that’s one of the least important things about what you’re doing at WACCBIP. You’re not here [only] to get a degree; you are here to engage and end up with something far more precious; it’s called an education.” Prof. Gull said.

Prof. Francis Dodoo, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Development at University of Ghana, who chaired the opening ceremony, expressed his delight at the impact WACCBIP has made in mobilising resources to attract a high calibre of scientists to the University.

He said, “WACCBIP is demonstrating precisely the impact an African Centre of Excellence can have by way of contributing to the transformation of our University. This is in line with [the University’s vision of] attaining world class status with respect to quality, quantum, and impact of research.

He added that WACCBIP played an important role in the reorganisation of ORID’s activities as they allowed for collective cultivation of the Centre’s resources within the University.

Other speakers at the event were Dr. Ben Botwe, President of Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana and Dr. Lydia Mosi, Head of Department of Biochemistry Cell and Molecular Biology.

The West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) was set up in 2013 with funding from the Government of Ghana through World Bank’s Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project. Since its inception, WACCBIP has grown into a leading Centre of Excellence, building global partnerships with world-class research institutions and funding organisations. The Centre aims to improve diagnosis, prevention, and control of infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa by providing advanced-level training and research excellence on the cell and molecular biology of infectious pathogens.

3rd Biennial International Conference of Dryland, 2018

The African Centre of Excellence in Dryland Agriculture (CDA) Bayero University, Nigeria in collaboration with the International Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) are organizing the third Biennial International Conference of Drylands with the theme; Resource Constraints, Conflicts and Changing Climate in the Drylands: Options for Attaining the SDGs. The Conference will be held from September 24-28, 2018 at CDA campus, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria.
The Conference aims to bring together scientists, farmers, policy makers, civil society organizations and private sector stakeholders from across the globe to examine how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be attained in the drylands in the face of resource scarcity, climate change and the emerging conflicts.
For further information kindly visit
Deadline for submission of Abstracts: 10th August, 2018

WACCI graduates its first cohort of MPhil students under the ACE Project


The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), has graduated its first cohort of MPhil students under the ACE Project. The Center on July 20 graduated nine (9) MPhil and 14 PhD students.

The first graduating cohort of 9 MPhil Seed Science and Technology students were enrolled under the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) project in August 2015. This 2-year innovative programme was developed in recognition of the dire need of the ailing seed industry in West and Central Africa.

In an interview, Professor Eric Y. Danquah, the founding Director of the Center noted that WACCI is exerting huge impact across the African sub-region and has shown in eleven years that quality plant breeding education is undoubtedly a smart development investment. The Centre continues to produce the much needed human resources who are at the forefront of agricultural transformation and plant breeding activities across sub-Saharan Africa. He stated that, these graduates have been equipped with entrepreneurial skills to enable them set-up and manage seed businesses which will ultimately transform the seed industry in the sub-region.

He also added, “WACCI is evolving into an Agriculture Innovations and Entrepreneurship institution to generate game-changing products needed for the inclusive transformation of African agriculture and urged Governments of Africa and development partners to prioritize institutions like WACCI for sustained core funding in order to transform agriculture in Africa.”

Prof. Danquah further noted that, a multipurpose building to be completed in August 2018 will provide world class research, teaching and learning facilities needed to attract strategic partners from around the world to make WACCI a preeminent global institution for world class agricultural research and training.

The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), hosted by the University of Ghana is one of the Agriculture Centers under the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) Project. The Centre has since inception, enrolled 114 PhD students in Plant Breeding and 36 students in MPhil Seed Science and Technology. A total of 66 PhD and 9 MPhil students would have graduated from the WACCI programme. Also, as the pre-eminent Centre for plant breeding education in Africa, WACCI has over 60 improved varieties of staples such as maize, sweetpotato, rice, cassava, groundnut, cowpea and taro with the potential of increasing Africa’s food production have been released by our graduates in their respective home countries.

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

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