The 7th ACE Impact Workshop Ends After Four Days of Intense Discussions in Cotonou

The 7th ACE Impact Workshop Ends After Four Days of Intense Discussions in Cotonou, Benin – The Gambia is set to host the 8th ACE Impact Regional Workshop in November 2022

The highly successful and productive 7th ACE Impact regional workshop hosted from 14 June 2022 ended on Friday 17 June 2022 with several key outcomes and a way forward forged from the event’s discussion.

As key highlights, the workshop was attended by close to 300 participants comprising government representatives from the 11 participating countries of the project, eminent academics, researchers, development partners from the World Bank, IRD and AFD, team members from the Association of African Universities (AAU), project teams from the African Higher Education Centres of Excellence, students and industry partners, just to mention a few. Aside Africa, participants and experts from the United States of America, Europe, New Zealand, and other countries/continents physically participated in the workshop in Benin.  Several other higher education stakeholders also joined the event virtually. Both the closing and opening ceremonies were graced by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Republic of Benin – Professor Mrs. Eléonore Yayi Ladekan. The workshop, which gathered the crème de la crème of professionals in Africa’s higher education, recorded several technical sessions, including performance clinics, thematic breakout sessions, parallel and plenary sessions.

The four-day workshop also updated participants and featured discussions on overall project updates, monitoring, evaluation and learning, report from the subject matter experts,  a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, the development impact of the centres’ interventions, as well as a report on the progress of the Centres of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE) Initiative. Others included a focus on gender , updates on the Data Systems Maturity Survey and updates on regional networks.

The closing remarks, given by the Secretary General of the AAU, Prof. Olusola Oyewole; The Benin Country Manager of the World Bank, who was represented by Dr. Ekua Bentil (the World Bank Senior Education Specialist and Team Leader of ACE Impact) and the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research for Benin, were packed with key messages appreciating all the teams for their outstanding contributions to a successful workshop. Their remarks urged the project’s stakeholders to continue collaboratively working towards the shared goal of achieving development impact to accelerate Africa’s growth.

Specifically, the remarks from the World Bank team paid glowing tribute to the Government of Benin, represented by the Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research for hosting both the 7th ACE Impact Regional Workshop and the Project Steering Committee Meeting.  The local organizing committee, Ministers of higher education from across the continent, Vice Chancellors, subject matter experts, partners including the AAU and AFD; Centre leaders and their teams, as well as students from the respective centers, especially those who participated in the workshop’s poster competition were all duly acknowledged. Mrs. Gabrielle Hansen, an officer in charge of logistics at the AAU was specially recognised for her hard work and unwavering dedication to the project, as well as the success of the 7th ACE Impact workshop, despite finding herself in challenging circumstances.  The centres were reminded that it was only through their resilience and dedication that the project could achieve its targets. The messages also made a strong call to the centres of excellence to continue innovating, since ‘innovation and impact is what distinguishes them as ACE Centers,’ they were told.  Another key point highlighted was the fact that as a regional project, the success of one center was the success of all, and therefore collaboration to ensure that the centres succeed was key. Dr. Ekua Bentil, speaking on behalf of the World Bank Country Manager for Benin, said, that the ACE Impact initiative was not merely a project, but a long-term vision to equip Africa to generate the next cohort of experts, researchers and academics who will contribute to solving Africa’s developmental challenges. She also announced that The Gambia had offered to host the 8th ACE Impact Regional Workshop in November 2022, a gesture for which the project was grateful. This announcement was received with loud applause from the hundreds of participants gathered at Palais des Congrès, the venue for the closing ceremony in Cotonou, Benin.

For his part, the Secretary General of the Association of African Universities, Prof. Olusola Oyewole acknowledged the respective teams for their contributions and active participation throughout the workshop discussions. He highlighted the key areas where centres are remarkably delivering on target (including revenue generation and overall student enrolment) and called for efforts to be stepped up in areas such as accreditation and female student enrolment to foster a complete attainment of the project’s targets. He encouraged the centres to critically identify the challenges that confront them and to invest time and resources towards addressing such challenges. The Centres were also urged to consolidate the gains made so far, by devising innovative mechanisms, strengthening partnerships among themselves and with industry and other sectors, while ensuring sustainability of the project. Prof. Oyewole used the platform to call for the adoption of the brilliant ACE Impact model by other African governments and development partners. He wrapped up by expressing his optimism, about the centres being more that galvanised to meet the project’s targets and to significantly enhance the quality of their research and overall contributions, following all the lively and stimulating discussions over the workshops’ duration.

The guest of honour for the official closing ceremony, the honourable Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research for Benin, Prof. Mrs. Eléonore Yayi Ladekan was full of praise for the AAU’s facilitative role towards the successful organisation of the workshop, and overall dynamism and contribution to the centres of excellence project. She called on centres to continue prioritising the key tenets underlying the project including the focus on training quality students, achieving institutional impact, generating innovative solutions, prioritising research excellence, and enrolling female students. While thanking all the stakeholders and development partners for facilitating the project and for choosing Benin as the host country for the 7th ACE Impact Regional Workshop, she congratulated The Gambia for being the next country to host the gathering of some of Africa’s top intellectuals at the upcoming 8th ACE Impact regional workshop. The minister also invited the participants to explore the beautiful city of Cotonou and to visit some tourism destinations in Benin.

Prof. Joel Tossa, the Centre Leader for CEA-SMIA gave the vote of thanks, on behalf of the Local Organising Committee.

Highlights of the Next Steps of the Project

Giving the Immediate next steps related to activities to be prioritised following the workshop, Dr. Ekua Bentil, the Team Lead for ACE Impact at the World Bank listed the following:

  • Submission of project extension request letters by the Project Steering Committee Members to their respective governments by end of June 2022
  • Completion of First ACE Impact re-allocation of Funds and Mid Term Review by end of June 2022
  • Completion of verification of January -May 2022 results and issuance of disbursement letters to centres (June-August 2022)
  • Completion of mid-term review assessment of Second ACE Impact countries (June -September 2022)
  • Subject matter expert site visits and virtual support to the Centres (June – December 2022)
  • Capacity building activities for Centres e.g., Webinars, coaching
    (June 2022 – May 2023)
  • Overseeing the Graduate Tracer Study Implementation (June 2022 – May 2023)
  • Supporting the implementation of ACE Impact thematic networks and partnerships (June 2022 – May 2023)
  • Hosting of the 8th Regional Workshop in The Gambia (November 2022)

Concluding her delivery, Dr. Bentil stressed the need for the centres and their respective governments to work towards ensuring the sustainability of the project, well beyond its stipulated end date and funding period.

Students Poster Exhibition and Awards

The closing ceremony also featured the presentation of Awards to students who had emerged as winners of the poster exhibition, a contest hosted as part of the 7th ACE Impact workshop.  This contest afforded the students, the opportunity to share their innovative research with the event participants. Those who won the first, second and third places were presented their awards by the Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research, honourable Prof. Mrs. Eléonore Yayi Ladekan, supported by Prof. Olusola Oyewole, the Secretary General of the AAU, and Dr. Ekua Bentil of the World Bank.

The winners for the poster competition are as follows:

1st Place Position – Benjamin Bonkoungou and Prof. Amos T. Kabo-bah

2nd Place Position – Alle, I. C.; Descloitres, M.; Vouillamoz, J-M. ; Yalo, N.; Lawson, M.; Adihou, C.

3rd Place Position – Essohanam Djeki, Jules Degila, Carlyna Bondiombouy, and Muhtar Hanif Alhassan

 

Written by: Mrs. Felicia Nkrumah Kuagbedzi

“Place Students and Faculty at the Center of Digital Infrastructure Implementation” – a Senior Digital Education Expert Advises

Mr. Moussa Traore an International Digital Education Expert from the World Bank advised African Universities to always prioritize the needs of students and faculty when designing and implementing digital infrastructure. This is important because technological infrastructure must be used by students and faculty to achieve the intended learning outcomes and produce skilled graduates that would be able to address Africa’s developmental challenges. African Universities tend to prioritize internet access for their administrative purposes and not for teaching, learning and research needs, stated Mr. Traore. He said this while making a presentation during the digital transformation session at the 7th ACE Impact Regional Workshop hosted in Benin from 14-17 June 2022.

The overall “ICT for digital and remote learning” recommendations shared by Mr. Traore focused on infrastructure and equipment; technical support and training; quality digital content and resources and digital education policies and data governance.

Infrastructure and equipment

Mr. Traore advised universities to gradually migrate their applications, platforms, and related infrastructure to the cloud because this would reduce the need to invest in internal skills for maintaining the infrastructure. Cloud hosting also ensures that the digital platforms are continuously accessible and not affected by power outages.

Universities were encouraged to develop long-term plans for their infrastructure, which must include the replacement of wired and wireless cabling, devices and identifying funding sources. It was also said that university digital transformation plans must indicate how the security and protection of student data are assured.

Mr. Traore cautioned that universities needed to ensure that their servers had the capacity to meet current and future storage needs, and that they had the performance to run newer applications.  “It is important to be able to easily expand the storage capacities of servers as needed”, indicated Mr. Traore. Computer servers must be replaced every 3-5 years and their software regularly updated to newer versions. ​There must be additional servers for specific tasks and services – for example, a web server for online and remote training, accounting server, database server, mail server, and others.

Connectivity

Since robust connectivity is a key enabler for online learning, African universities must therefore ensure that students and faculty have broadband access to the Internet and adequate wireless connectivity. Special focus must be on the equity of access both inside and outside of the campus.

Network Engineers were advised to plan to offer a minimum of 10 mbps total bandwidth to each student and WIFI solutions must cover the whole campus including the students’ dormitories to enable them to learn from anywhere. Campus networks must implement at least the 802.11N wireless technology standard in the 5GHZ band to facilitate maximum coverage and connection for students and faculty.

Device access

Universities were called to allow students to use their own personal wireless devices in a safe and secure manner. Mr. Traore also said that content filtering and restricted guest user access must be implemented to protect the universities’ internal network resources.

It is the duty of university leaders to ensure that every student and faculty member have at least one internet access device – a smartphone, laptop, tablet, and or desktop – including appropriate software and resources for research, collaboration, communication, multimedia content creation, and collaboration in and outside campus.

Universities ought to design and implement plans for accommodating students who either do not have access to devices or lack devices that are compatible with the official campus learning management system.

Learning Management System (LMS) Use

African Universities were advised to ensure that they offered a digital and distance learning management system (LMS) such as Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard or other preferred LMS.

There ought to be clear instructions given to students concerning how to use the LMS and tips for navigating the specifics of a course.

Technical Support and Training

Universities were advised to prepare their Information Technology (IT) support staff to provide just-in-time support to students and faculty members.

There must be a plan for continuous Professional Learning Opportunities for university IT staff. Mr. Traore mentioned observing over the period, that many of the universities were not creating such learning opportunities for their staff, therefore universities ought to refine their goals and set a focus on this area since changes happen frequently in the IT sector. Adding, that the modes and frequency of professional learning activities need to be clarified as an institutional policy.

Mr. Moussa Traore Presenting at the 7th ACE Impact Workshop
Mr. Moussa Traore Presenting at the 7th ACE Impact Workshop

Provide Access to Technology and Support

Universities need to identify and put in place support mechanisms to help students and faculty when they experience technical difficulties. Such a support plan, when adopted should be communicated to all faculty and students.

An annual training program on the use of the university LMS must be developed and shared with faculty and students. Offering educational technology support to faculty and students increases their digital literacy declared Mr Moussa Traore.

Quality Digital Content and Resources

The technologies that are deployed must be fit for purpose and should facilitate the management and provision of learning materials. Again, African Universities were advised to support the development and use of openly licensed educational materials to promote innovative and creative opportunities for all learners and to accelerate the development and adoption of new open technology–based learning tools and courses.​

Mr. Traore also advised universities to take inventory of all their learning technology resources and align them to intended educational outcomes.

Policies and Governance

Prioritization of the implementation of data initiatives and the collection of data to drive decision-making in African Universities was recommended by Mr. Troare. “To collect data, universities must implement robust Education Management Information System (EMIS) so that they can collect all existing data on students, faculty, and the universities”, he added.

Collected Data must be regularly analyzed to determine whether additional data need to be collected to address priorities. Mr. Traore recommended the creation of a comprehensive map and database of connectivity, device access, openly licensed educational resources, and their usage across the institution.​

Mr. Traore underscored the importance of establishing governance for learning and educational technologies to avoid problems with the efficient delivery of systems, confusion over policy, and variation in the types and quality of services and tools provided.

He stressed the importance of implementing an IT security policy, saying that cybersecurity and cyber safety training for students, faculty and staff in general needed to be prioritized. He also stated that digital and distance learning policies needed to be developed and implemented by African Universities.

Technology Planning and Purchasing

University Leaders were informed that they needed to define their Technology Budgets as a matter of priority. Existing budgets must be reviewed, and an inventory of available technology done. Vice Chancellors must work with their Directors of ICT to determine the costs for upgrading infrastructure and purchasing new devices as well as identify funds to meet short- and long-term goals.

Universities must develop a multi-year plan to support and sustain the costs of technology. Similarly, budgets must be regularly reviewed and refined to accommodate the costs of technology.

Technology Evaluation

In conclusion Mr. Moussa Traore said that the periodic evaluation of all technological solutions was important because this provides opportunities to obtain feedback and improve technological services to benefit both students and faculty. During technology evaluations, universities were advised to reflect on questions such as – Is technology being used effectively? Is technology getting in the way of pedagogy? Are the students engaged in the lessons? ​ Do the faculty staff display or have confidence in the use of the technology? Are the hardware and software installed and configured correctly?​ Are there things that the IT Support team can do to facilitate learning?​

 

Written By: Ms Nodumo Dhlamini, Director ICT Services, Communications & Knowledge Management at AAU

 

Universities Planning Digital Transformation Initiatives Advised to Consider the C-CoDE Model

Effective and learner-centered digital transformation of African higher educational institutions requires a holistic and sustainable approach so that the intended outcomes from higher education can be realized. A well-thought-out digital transformation strategy by African Universities would also ensure that budgets are identified, staff and students are continuously trained, appropriate infrastructure is set up, sustainability and partnership plans are implemented, and supportive institutional policies and strategies are put in place.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world, the infrastructural challenges and limitations in Africa’s higher education system further exacerbated equity & access challenges. Digital Skills among faculty and students were also identified to be a major challenge. Faculty in most of the African Universities had limited or no experience with implementing and using online teaching and learning tools, platforms, and methods. Furthermore, most of the teaching content was also found to be inappropriate for online use. Again, emergency online teaching methods were not supported by institutional policies and practices. Academic faculty and other stakeholders continue to be concerned about quality assurance and recognition of online courses and programs.

One of the plenary sessions during the 7th ACE Impact Regional Workshop, hosted in Cotonou, Benin, was dedicated to the discussion of digital transformation activities that are supported by the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project (ACE Impact). This session was chaired by Professor Gikiri Thuo, one of the subject matter experts supporting the ACE Impact Project. The session featured a presentation by Dr Dimitris Noukakis from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne who gave a report on the progress of the Centres of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE) Initiative being implemented in partnership with the Association of African Universities and six competitively selected ACE Impact Centres since September 2021. The participating ACE Centers are the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) at the National Open University in Nigeria; the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Power and Energy Development (ACE-SPED) at the University of Nigeria Nsukka; the Africa Center of Excellence in Population Health and Policy (ACEPHAP) and the Center for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) at Bayero University in Kano. The others are the Regional Center for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (RCEES) at the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Ghana; CEA-Centre d’Etudes, de Formation et de Recherche en Gestion des Risques Sociaux (CEFORGRIS) at the Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo in Burkina Faso and Centre d’Excellence Africain en Sciences, Mathématiques, Informatique et Application (CEA-SMIA) at the Université d’Abomey-Calavi in Bénin.

Dr. Noukakis said that the C-CoDE model has been well thought-out to address all the dimensions of digital transformation in higher education and to ensure that academics are well trained to drive the transformation themselves. Thus, universities planning to digitally transform their institutions are encouraged to consider the adoption of this model.

Dr. Noukakis explained that the six participating universities are being supported to strengthen themselves towards establishing Centers of Competence in Digital Education on their campuses to promote the sustainable integration of digital education in their teaching processes, as a means of strengthening the quality of teaching as well as the competencies of graduates.

He explained that the C-CoDE concept facilitates the digital transition of Higher Education by addressing key underlying issues such as the adaptation of pedagogy to the digital environment, provision of infrastructure and building of technical competences. The objective of the C-CoDE initiative is to sustainably integrate digital education in African universities. The expected outcome from C-CoDE is strengthened quality education and skilled graduates. Dr. Noukakis said that the C-CoDE model proposes that the solution to digital transformation is to “place all the needed skills, competences and infrastructure under one roof”. The outputs of the C-CoDE concept are resident experts in digital education; a pool of faculty members trained in and championing digital education, and conducive environments/places to design, produce and distribute digital educational content.

Dr. Noukakis said that there were already significant outputs from the C-CoDE initiative since its launch in September 2021.  Using the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) pedagogical model, 18 digital education experts were trained and required to convert one of their courses for online delivery so that they learn the practical skills. Two cohorts, one English and the other French, went through three online workshops that applied the flipped classroom style and tutoring teaching methods. The fourth workshops were held as face-to-face activities in Abuja and Cotonou.

A total of 180 faculty members from the six participating universities are being trained between January 2022 to July 2022, using four facilitated Digital Education Masterclass Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs). Twelve Technicians are being trained on-site and would also receive two weeks hands-on training so that they are able to support the digital education studios.

Reflecting on some of the key next steps in relation to the C-CoDE initiative, Dr. Noukakis intimated that the finalization of construction works for the digital education studios in the participating universities is programmed to be completed in July 2022, whilst the procurement of information technology and multimedia equipment is planned for August 2022. Plans are underway, to inaugurate the six C-CoDE centres in September 2022.

Dr. Noukakis concluded by reporting that the training in Digital Education was highly appreciated by the participating academic faculty and institutions. Tutoring and facilitation were also recognized as being very important when training students online. Similarly, the need to add more modularity to the trainings to accommodate busy academics through shorter modules was also mentioned.   Finally, he said that it is important to engage trained faculty in digital course development and to align the sustainability plan of the C-CoDE initiative with universities’ strategies.

During the question-and-answer session, the participants sought to find out how the mindsets of stakeholders could be transformed to accept digital education. In response, Dr. Noukakis advised that motivating academic faculty and students could not be achieved “by just introducing technology”. However motivating people to transform their teaching methods could be achieved through training them and demonstrating the benefits of digital education to the faculty and students. He said that the faculty must understand the whole cycle and must be fully engaged. In addition, institutional policies must be changed to accommodate the adoption of digital education and include learner-centric approaches to digital transformation to ensure the success of the implementation of digital education. Participants at this session were asked to reflect on who was at the center of focus in their campus digital transformation initiatives because campuses need to be organic places that respond to the needs of students.

 

Written By: Ms Nodumo Dhlamini, Director ICT Services, Communications & Knowledge Management at AAU

Innovative Societies Have Stable Economic Growth – Dr. Danica Ramljak

A senior consultant and expert in entrepreneurship and innovation at the World Bank, Dr. Danica Ramljak underscored the critical role innovation and entrepreneurship play in advancing the economic growth of countries.  Speaking during the session on entrepreneurship and innovation, at the 7th ACE Impact regional workshop held in Cotonou Benin, she called on higher education institutions to strengthen their efforts in the areas of technology transfer, development of institutional innovation and the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The session broadly featured an interactive discussion on how the 53 Centres of Excellence are progressing with entrepreneurship and innovation, building on lessons from both within and outside the African continent.

 

The Disbursement Linked Indicator (DLI) 5.3 – Key Observations and Next Steps

Making a presentation on DLI 5.3 which focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship, Dr. Danica Ramljak took participants through the key targets of the implementation plan, including a focus on innovation-oriented cooperation in research infrastructures and collaboration with the private sector. Centres had earlier been given opportunities to develop implementation plans on how to accomplish the activities related to innovation and entrepreneurship as part of DLI5.3. Dr. Danika used the opportunity to provide feedback to the Centres on their applications.

She called on the centres to pay special attention to the established criteria for the review process of applications under this indicator, which included – quality background description of institutional and innovation ecosystems. Others included justification for the proposed activity and a detailed explanation of the proposed implementation plan with specific descriptions of each activity, highlighting the goals, timelines and person (s) responsible.  The verification criteria and budget as well as the justification for the budget were said to be part of the criteria.

Commenting on the general results from the review process, it was mentioned that the quality of applications significantly differed, in ways which cannot be attributed to the country of origin or scientific research interest areas of the Centres. The number of improved resubmissions were also noted to have been significantly increased during the resubmission stage. Again, it was observed that the Centres were at different levels in terms of institutional innovation ecosystem.

Participants were reminded of the key roles of higher education in the areas of knowledge generation, training of skilled human resource and the development of technology that can be transferred to industry among others.  Based on these roles, including others such as undertaking research for industry and the development of competitive products, the session participants were encouraged to advocate and engage the authorities in their institutions and at the country levels to prioritise innovation.

They were also encouraged to measure and determine the technology readiness level of their institutions for innovation and commercialisation as this was an important step towards planning and putting measures in place to foster the readiness of their systems for full scale deployment.

Key among the recommendations towards becoming fully blown entrepreneurial and innovative institutions, the importance of having appropriate Science Technology Innovation (STI) policies in place and ensuring its effective implementation was underscored. Other recommendations outlined included – ensuring institutional capacity building for STI management and governance, the establishment of efficient models for knowledge transfer and the provision of institutional capacity building. It was also recommended that centres define their research and development priorities, develop a roadmap for research infrastructure and provide sustainable support for innovation development.  Equally important to fostering innovation and entrepreneurial activities were the recommendations to attract the private sector to collaborate and invest in HEIs research and development (R&D), the need to strengthen international collaborations, a well as inform the general public about the importance of the Centres’ work.

Experience Sharing on Entrepreneurship and Innovation by Three Centres of Excellence – ACECoR, CERSA and OAU-OAK PARK

A high-level panel composed of Mr. Joshua Adotey from the Africa Centre of Excellence in Coastal Resilience (ACECoR), Ghana, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu from OAU ICT-Driven Knowledge Park, Nigeria and Dr. Edoh representing the Regional Center of Excellence on Avian Sciences (CERSA), Togo discussed key issues and shared their experiences on how to excel and meet the requirements of DLI 5.3.

Speaking on the key challenges encountered in their institutions’ ecosystems which inhibit their work in this area, CERSA identified the lack of a technology transfer office to facilitate their commercialization process, and the low marketing of results generated by the researchers.  For ACECoR, there was the lack of entrepreneurship policies at the initial stage of developing the framework for the DLI. Limited engagement and collaboration between industry and the university was also a challenge, however this has been improved drastically and currently industry members are engaged closely in various ways, including in remodeling some programmes and courses.  ACECoR highlighted how the support from university authorities, especially the vice-chancellor helped them overcome some of their challenges, leading to the strengthening of their technology office.

For OAU-OAK PARK, the focus on developing the skills of students had been prime on their agenda, however the development of IT entrepreneurs had not been prioritized, thus they identified the need to train the youth in this area for wealth creation and capacity development among others.  Having done all these however, the key challenge of their inability to attract investors to fund the innovations and products including spin off institutions, remains.  Another challenge faced related to intellectual property rights issues which come up as they partner with industry in generating some innovations.  Participants were told that the centre has put in place pragmatic measures to overcome these challenges, including training students to develop business plans, providing seed funding for the innovations, engaging the University’s intellectual property rights office from the start of discussions with industry players.

Speaking on how to be successful in innovation, the experienced panelists advised centres to strengthen their engagement with the private sector, implement measures to motivate their researchers, and to develop and implement institutional manuals and procedures to guide various processes. Again, the Centres were encouraged to ensure that there is a fully functional entrepreneurial ecosystem which has people with the right skills, a pool of investors supporting their research work, a ready market to uptake developed innovations and the sensitisation of stakeholders to embrace entrepreneurship. Additionally, commitment from institutional authorities toward innovation and entrepreneurship was said to be key, just like having an Intellectual Property Technology Transfer Office (IPPTO) and a sustainability plan.

Centre’s Impact on University Systems

Tackling the discussion on how Centre’s activities impact and strengthen the university system, numerous contributions were shared.  Among these, ACECoR for instance is engaging the University’s Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy (DRIC) in operationalising the formulation on Innovation, thereby building capacity in the team.  It is also creating an enabling environment for the service incubation centre of the institution.

Similarly, OAU- OAK is supporting capacity building of the institution’s Business Resource Centre, linking this centre to industry players and also collaborating with them to organise technology focused conferences. Again, some spin off companies from the centre’s activities now serve as places for practical skill acquisition for the University’s students, through internships.

 

Leveraging ACE Impact Project to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship in African HEIs

Following a question-and-answer session from participants, Dr. Danica Ramljak wrapped up the session by calling on the centres to leverage the opportunity presented by the project to improve their institutions’ innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.  Centres were encouraged to for instance draw on the project to beef up capacity in their technology transfer offices, if they are understaffed.  They were urged to strengthen partnerships among themselves as centres and with other international partners, advocate for the development and implementation of Intellectual Property Policies among others.

Finally, the centres of excellence were called upon to lobby and engage their ministries and universities to recognise innovation and entrepreneurship activities of researchers as part of career progress and promotion indicators, and equally work hard to bring in money from other external sources to support innovation and entrepreneurship as these are key ingredients to economic growth of countries across the continent.

 

Written By: Mrs. Felicia Nkrumah Kuagbedzi, Senior Communications and Publications Officer, AAU

High Level 7th Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Regional Workshop kicks off at Palais des Congrès, Cotonou, Benin – Minister of Higher Education formally opens the workshop

A four-day higher education regional workshop, which brought together approximately 300 higher education stakeholders from Africa and beyond, was held in Cotonou, Benin. The workshop was hosted by the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Project from 14 -17, June 2022.

In attendance were team members from the 53 centres of excellence from the 11 participating African Countries, Project teams from the World Bank, French Development Agency, and the Association of African Universities, Subject Matter Experts, Vice Chancellors, Students, Industry partners and other various higher education stakeholders.

The workshop created the dynamic platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and an opportunity for sharing global best practices, provision of implementation support and the discussion of practical mechanisms to ensure sustainability of the project beyond its stipulated lifespan. It also provided the chance for collaborative regional knowledge sharing on all the thematic subject areas of the project, as well as to assess the results from the project’s mid-term review process.

ACE Impact is a World Bank initiative in collaboration with governments of 11 participating African countries to support higher education institutions specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Environment, Agriculture, applied Social Sciences / Education and Health. It is widely recognised as a critical and important project which is improving the capacity of Africa’s higher education institutions.

The 7th ACE Impact workshop started on a high note with an opening ceremony which featured key remarks from the Secretary General of the Association of African Universities – Prof. Olusola Oyewole; the Cotonou Director of the French Development Agency, Mr. Jerome Bertrand-Hardy, and the World Bank Country Manager, Mr. Atou Seck.

Formally opening the workshop, the Minister of Education for Benin, Madame Eleonore Yayi Ladekan spoke highly about the importance of the ACE Impact project to Africa’s higher education system and recognised the efforts of the project team and all participating centres and countries.  She highlighted various reforms launched by the Republic of Benin aimed at impacting all stakeholders in the education pipeline – right from the learners/students to the national level and final beneficiaries.  She further underscored the quality of interventions and key activities under the project – including internships, training of students, and innovative research which she said are all important in facilitating knowledge generation and usage, as well as ensuring that excellence transcends the functions of Africa’s Higher Education institution.

The 7th ACE Impact workshop has a diverse agenda and focus areas to be discussed at plenary, breakout sessions and performance clinics. The event also featured a special poster presentation session which created the platform for students to present their innovative research to the African higher education stakeholders present at the workshop.  Prior to the Workshop, the project began hosting Country Round Table sessions, which presented the opportunity for country specific discussions related to the mid-term review process. Again, the Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting was held on 13th June 2022, also in Cotonou, Benin.  The PSC is a high-level policy making committee comprised of representatives of African government from the 11 participating countries, the World Bank, French Development Agency and the Association of African Universities.

A press conference was also hosted just before the opening ceremony on June 14, creating the platform for the media to engage the key project team on critical issues in Africa’s Higher Education, for the information of the wider African populace.

Discussions for the remaining three days (June 15-17, 2022) focused on forging the way forward in relation to specific project priority areas including – Digital Transformation, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Gender and Development Impact among others.

 

Written By: Mrs. Felicia Kuagbedzi, Senior Communications Officer, AAU

The ACE Impact Project to hold its 7th Regional Workshop Physically

The Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) will have its 7th biannual Regional Workshop in Benin from June 13th to 17th, 2022.

The regional workshop is expected to bring together close to 500 participants, including the fifty-three (53) Centres of Excellence and key stakeholders, government representatives from participating countries, Vice Chancellors, representatives from the higher education sector, the private sector, policy think tanks, and the project’s partners, such as the World Bank, the French Development Agency, and the Association of African Universities.

The workshop will engage high-level discussions on ways in which higher education on the continent can be propelled, in addition to assessing  the project’s achievements so far.

During the pandemic, the project held two annual workshops virtually to adhere to global COVID regulations and guidelines. The upcoming 7th Biannual Regional Workshop will be the first physical meeting to be held by the ACE Impact project since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Africa Higher Education Fair 2018

As part of the Ninth ACE workshop, the maiden Higher Education Fair will be organized under the scope of the regional project, Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE). The ACE Higher Education Fair would be of interest to students, professors, working adults, members of the industry and the general public seeking higher education opportunities in Africa.

Objectives of the Fair

The goal of the ACE Higher Education Fair is to provide an interactive platform and to inform students and faculty, about the programs offered by the ACEs. Specially, the Fair aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Provide a platform for all ACEs to present and promote locally and internationally, their programs and activities through currents ACE students and faculty presentations, brochures and picture displays.
  2. Provide faculty exchange opportunities for faculty interested in joining the ACEs.
  3. Provide opportunities to all ACEs to recruit students to their various courses by offering face-to-face interactions with aspiring students, career guidance educators and working professionals planning to pursue further studies Africa.
  4. Provide opportunities to students and faculties to better know World Bank activities and achievements, and be part of the World Bank potential staff roster.

ACE Higher Education Fair, opens to the public on Monday May 7, 2018 at 2iE Campus, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from 9 am to 5pm.

All Higher Education Institutions (faculty and students), industry stakeholders, government and the general public are invited.

Joint ACE I & ACE II Project Workshop of the World Bank Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project| Accra, Ghana| November 7-10, 2017

The Association of African Universities (AAU), and the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), will host the 1st Joint ACE I & ACE II Project Workshop of the World Bank Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project.

This is scheduled to take place at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in  Accra, Ghana, from 7th – 9th November, 2017.  The Meetings of the Project Steering Committee (ACE I) and the Regional Steering Committee (ACE II) will take place on Friday, 10th November, 2017 after the Joint Project Workshop.

This is an important workshop where ACE I and ACE II members will learn and share experiences with each other, and network for mutual benefit mainly on verification of Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs), disbursement process, international accreditation and overall ACE project activities.

ACE I is made up of countries in West and Central Africa (Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and The Gambia) whiles ACE II is made up of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia).

The Association of African Universities (AAU) is the ACE I Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) and the  National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), is the regulatory body for the ACEs in Ghana.

Joint ACE I & ACE II Project Workshop of the World Bank Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project| Accra, Ghana| November 7-10, 2017

The Association of African Universities (AAU), and the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), will host the 1st Joint ACE I & ACE II Project Workshop of the World Bank Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project.

This is scheduled to take place at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in  Accra, Ghana, from 7th – 9th November, 2017.  The Meetings of the Project Steering Committee (ACE I) and the Regional Steering Committee (ACE II) will take place on Friday, 10th November, 2017 after the Joint Project Workshop.

This is an important workshop where ACE I and ACE II members will learn and share experiences with each other, and network for mutual benefit mainly on verification of Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs), disbursement process, international accreditation and overall ACE project activities.

ACE I is made up of countries in West and Central Africa (Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and The Gambia) whiles ACE II is made up of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia).

The Association of African Universities (AAU) is the ACE I Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) and the  National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), is the regulatory body for the ACEs in Ghana.

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