The ACE 1 Project has kept its promise!

In her opening remarks at the ACE 1 and ACE IMPACT Regional Workshop in Dakar on the 24th September 2019, Mrs. Himdat Bayusuf, Task Team Leader of the Africa Centers of Excellence (ACE1), stated that the “The ACE project has delivered on its promise with excellent results on the ground. The ACE project has succeeded is expanding post graduate education with at least 2000 PhD and 11000 MSc students enrolled in key priority sectors such as infectious diseases, maternal health, neglected tropical diseases, dry land agriculture, food security, water, climate change, sustainable mining, climate change, statistics; information and communication technology, materials science and engineering, just to name a few. Just as importantly, at least 30 percent of these students are females, signaling the importance of increasing female representation within the scientific fields and 30 percent of the students are from other countries within the region, highlighting the success in addressing regional higher education delivery. ACE has pushed the boundaries in terms of quality and relevance with at least 60 programs achieving international accreditation , up from a baseline of 3 at the start of the project. The ACEs have also shown the relevance of the science with centers achieving leveraging over $50 million from global competitive research grants and consultancies for their applied research work, clearly signaling the quality and relevance of the research topics being undertaken. Finally, we are proud to note that students at many of the ACEs will now benefit from state of the art labs, smart classrooms and new teaching and research equipment and resources.”

Madame Sophie Naudeau the Head of the Human Development Program in the Senegal World Bank office also added that the “ACE 1 project had kept its promise”. Madame Naudeau said that since its creation ACE 1 had improved regional integration, supported dynamic African Higher Education Institutions, achieved quality international standards, stimulated resource mobilization, promoted dynamism, innovation and progress for the African continent’s Higher Education sector.

The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) project is a results-based initiative of the World Bank being implemented in partnership with selected African governments to improve the quality of African Higher Education. The financing of the project is through a grant from the International Development Association – which are soft loans competitively provided to African countries whose universities meet the stringent criteria for selection. This ACE phase 1 project was launched in 2014 and focuses on 22 centres in 8 west and central African countries. Since then ACE phase 2 was launched for east and southern African countries – managed by the Inter-University Council of East Africa. This year phase 3 of the project (referred to as ACE IMPACT) was launched in Djibouti to include more countries in western and central Africa. The Association of African Universities is the regional facilitating Unit for both ACE 1 and ACE IMPACT. The role of the AAU is to support and monitor the implementation of the ACE 1 and ACE IMPACT projects in collaboration with the World Bank, the participating governments and universities. Earlier this year the French Development Agency (AFD) has joined the World Bank to provide funding to selected centres of Excellence under the ACE IMPACT Project.

When the ACE 1 project was conceptualized, the African Higher Education experts and partners agreed that ‘a regional approach to higher education in Africa’ offered the best way to build and sustain excellence. The argument was that a regional approach enabled ‘focusing on a few dynamic institutions with pockets of quality faculty that had already been responding innovatively by offering quality, fee-based, courses to students across west and central Africa’.


What was the promise of ACE 1?

In 2014 when the ACE 1 project was launched it promised to enhance regional specialization among participating west and central African universities in the areas that address regional challenges and strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver quality training and applied research.

The ACE 1 project also promised to strengthen post-graduate programs for a regional student body; offer specialized courses for industry professionals in the region; establish a regional faculty body; improve faculty and attract additional top level faculty; provide learning resources, labs and minor rehabilitations of existing facilities;  establish linkages with companies, government agencies and research centers for work-place learning input into the curricula, consultancies and joint research and collaborate with partner institutions to share the benefits of the investments, for example through training of faculty, sharing of curricula and sharing of learning resources.

The high-level impact promised by the project was to meet the labour market demands for skills within specific areas where there are skill shortages affecting development, economic growth and poverty reduction.

Key indicators have been tracked since 2014 to measure progress towards achieving the Project Development Objective. These include:

  • Number of national and regional students enrolled in new specialized short-term courses, and Master and PhD programs – to measure strengthened capacities
  • Number of regional students enrolled in new specialized short-term courses, and Master and PhD programs – to track regionality
  • Number of internationally accredited education programs – to track the quality of the training programmes
  • Number of students and faculty with at least 1-month internship in companies or institutions relevant to their field – to track training quality and address challenges
  • Amount of externally generated revenue by the ACEs – to track training and research quality

Evidence that the ACE 1 Project has kept its promise

During the September meeting in Dakar Mrs Adeline Addy, the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer from the Association of African Universities secretariat reported that there was a positive outlook on performance & grant disbursements as the ACE 1 project approaches closure in March 2020. Sixteen centres of excellence have earned above 80% of their total grants – the target being that by March 2020 all the grant funds would be fully disbursed. Four out of five project development objectives have been achieved and these are 30,259 total number of students trained; 12,062 number of regional students trained; 212 number of accredited programs and US$50,636,317 total external revenue mobilised by the participating centres.

Undoubtedly, the 22 ACE 1 centres have enhanced regional specialization in west and central Africa in the areas of agriculture, health, science, technology, engineering and mathematics to address regional challenges. These centres have been strengthened as regional centres in a diversity of fields of specialization that include, but are not limited to, genomics of infectious diseases, mines and environment, information and communication technology, poultry science, cell biology, materials science and climate science.

The capacities of the participating universities have been strengthened to deliver quality applied research – the evidence to support this is that on average, 25% of ACE publications are within the highest Cite Score percentile, indicating the high quality of the publications.

The capacities of the participating universities have also been strengthened to deliver quality training – this is evidenced by the fact that 57 internationally accredited programmes have been registered among the participating centres of excellence. In addition, 155 programmes have been accredited at either national or regional levels.

The reported number of 30,259 trained across the 8 participating west and central Africa countries leads us to infer that the ACE 1 project has significantly contributed towards the west and central Africa labour market demands for skills within specific areas where there were skill shortages affecting development and economic growth.

A pilot graduate students’ tracer study was recently conducted, and it received responses from 9 ACE 1 and 4 ACE 2 centres. The results further allude to the positive impact of the ACE initiative. The study focused on graduates’ satisfaction, relevance of the ACE programs and employability of the ACE graduates. The findings revealed that 96% of the respondents were satisfied with the quality of ACE teaching & learning. 88% were satisfied with the relevance and adequacy of internships programs. Concerning the relevance of the ACE programs, 98 % of the respondents indicated that the ACE programmes were relevant to labour market demands and 83% said that they would recommend ACE programs. Concerning employment, it was heartening to note that there was a 74% employment rate for ACE Graduates – with 46% ACE Graduates in full-time or related employment. 78% respondents said that they were satisfied with their jobs.


Even though more still needs to be done to support the strengthening of higher education institutions in west and central Africa – the ACE 1 project has meaningfully contributed towards responding to several challenges that were identified 2014.

Higher education in West and Central Africa was previously found to be under-developed and had been a low priority for the past two decades. Through the ACE 1 project, 8 countries have demonstrated their re-commitment to developing their higher education institutions.

The countries faced a shortage of human resources and capacity within Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) as well as agriculture and health disciplines. The ACE 1 project has strengthened specializations in the areas of agriculture, health and STEM, with 30,259 trained in these priority areas.

There were limited investments in higher education – and this meant that higher education institutions in west and central Africa were not capable of responding to the immediate skills needs or supporting sustained productivity-led growth in the medium term. The ACE 1 project has led to total investments of over USD250 million into the west and central Africa higher education sector.

Higher education in west and central Africa (and Africa as a whole) faced severe constraints in terms of attaining a critical mass of quality faculty. The ACE 1 project has facilitated the training of 3,583 faculty and 30,256 MSc and PhD students as well as delivering short courses.

A key lesson is on the importance of devising means of sustaining the financing for higher education through engagement of development partners, the private sector and governments. Governance and leadership have proved to be integral to the development of higher education systems that respond to the needs of the west and central African economies.

ACEs meet to Strengthen their Capacities to Deliver Quality Post-Graduate Training and Applied Research

The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE I) and Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) projects will be holding a biannual meeting in Dakar, Senegal from September 23-27, 2019. With support from the Ministry of Higher Education in Senegal, the World Bank and its partners (Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Association of African Universities (AAU)) launches the eleventh ACE I and second for the ACE Impact projects.

The meeting brings together several actors of the higher education sector, including, Vice Chancellors and academics from institutions hosting the Centers, government representatives from the participating ACE1 and ACE Impact Countries, the private sector, industry players and policy think tanks. The overarching goal is to create a platform for the Centers to gain knowledge relevant to the implementation of the projects, exchange information on their respective programs, build networks and forge partnerships to ensure the successful implementation and realization of the project’s objectives.

Click to read Press Release in English

CEA-SAMEF gives back to society through health screening

The African Center of Excellence in Maternal and Infant Health (CEA-SAMEF), hosted by the University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal organized a health screening and awareness campaign for over 500 residents of Dakar. The event was organized in collaboration with the Institute of Social Pediatrics (IPS) Guédiawaye, Senegal on Saturday, September 1 2018. These residents were screened for various diseases and infections including; urinary tract infections in children, anemia in adolescents and children, breast and cervical cancer in women, among others. Coupled with the screening was a training session for health workers in preventive techniques and first aid care.

Again, on Monday, September 03, 2018, CEA-SAMEF launched another joint medical campaign in partnership with the Association of Student Surgeons and Dentists of Senegal (AECDS) in the Commune of Mboro. The campaign which provided free health screening for about five hundred (500) people including women and children was held at the Darou Khoudoss ICS health post in Dakar, Senegal. More than 35 doctors from all disciplines including dentists and pharmacist participated in this well meaning contribution to quality healthcare delivery.

The health screening also created awareness on the role of CEA-SAMEF in improving child and maternal health in Senegal. It also strengthened the partnership between the Center,  the Institute of Social Paediatrics (IPS) and Association of Student Surgeons and Dentists of Senegal (AECDS). Moreover, participants were sensitized on adolescent health, nutritional status of women and children among other health related issues.

Based on the enormous impact of the health screening, efforts are being made to perpetuate the event and make it a statutory one for CEA-SAMEF.

The Africa Centre of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (CEA_SAMEF) is one of the six Centres under the Africa Centre of Excellence(ACE) project funded by the World Bank. The Centre since its inception has awarded more than 10 PhD scholarships to deserving students and introduced 13 short courses to train health staff.

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

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.

Workshop on Climate Change and Sustainable Environment

The Africa Center of Excellence in Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment (CEADESE) located at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in collaboration with Galilee International Management institute, Israel is hosting an International Course on Climate Change and Sustainable Environment.

The workshop is aimed at exposing participants to recent developments in the area of Climate Change and build a critical mass of next generation experts with robust understanding to address climate change issues.

The training commences on Monday August 6 and ends on Friday August 11, 2018 at the International Scholars Resource Centre, Federal University of Agriculture in Abeokuta, Nigeria.

This Workshop is targeted at administrators from academia and research Institutes, Deans, Heads of Departments, Researchers and government and private sector stakeholders in Climate Change and Sustainable Environment.

Interested participant should visit or call (+234) – 08035640707, 08034382476, 08020565881, 08069311558

Application Deadline: Friday 27th July, 2018.

Workshop Fee: US$ 200 (70,000 Naira)


WACCI receives International Accreditation

The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), which is one of the 22 African Centers of Excellence under the World Bank funded ACE project, has received International Accreditation for its postgraduate Programmes from AQAS, Germany.

The Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation of Study Programs (AQAS), a German- based institution noted for accreditation of excelling Higher Education Institutions has accredited two of WACCI’s post graduate Programmes – PhD in Plant Breeding and MPhil in Seed Science and Technology.

The International Accreditation was granted following a thorough evaluation conducted on WACCI, using the standards and guidelines for quality assurance approved by the European Association for Quality Assurance, European Students Union and the European University Association, among others.

Additionally, a panel of experts made up of Prof. Robert Hänsch, Technical University of Braunschweig, Gemany; Prof. Dr. Michael Kruse, University of Hohenheim, Germany; Dr. Victor Afari-Sefa, World Vegetable Center, Benin; Jorge Moreno Herrero, University of Mainz; Doris Herrmann and Dr. Dorothee Groeger, AQAS, visited the Centre from March 12-16, 2018 to inspect facilities and hold discussions with the Management and stakeholders of WACCI, following an assessment of a Self-Evaluation Report submitted by WACCI to AQAS.

Based on the report of the expert panel and the discussions of the Accreditation Commission at its 71st meeting, the Commission decided that the programmes, Seed Science and Technology (MPhil) and Plant Breeding (PhD) offered by the Centre were accredited. This was confirmed in a letter to WACCI, signed by Dr. Dorothee Groeger of AQAS. The accreditation is valid until September 2024.

Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, Director of WACCI has said that this accreditation will pave way for strategic collaborations with institutions in Europe and also increase the Centre’s capacity to boost research and help ensure food security in the sub-region. He noted, “We are currently restructuring with a focus on research for impact. This international accreditation should attract strategic partners from Europe and beyond to work with us in product development using modern science for the efficient and effective development of game-changing products for the inclusive transformation of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa,”

He added, that in order to facilitate the “Ghana and Africa beyond aid” agenda, there should be increased investments in research “We see our work impacting food and nutrition security in Ghana and beyond in the next few years. We believe the Ghana and Africa beyond aid agenda would not be a mirage if governments invest heavily in the food value chains. Innovation should be a high priority. Let’s put some funds in the home for innovations, our universities, and let’s challenge our scientists to deliver,” he said.

The Team Leader of the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project, Mr. Andreas Blom also added that, this is an “an indisputable testament to the quality of WACCI’s education”

WACCI currently runs one of the largest PhD educational programme in Africa with 62 students at various stages of training. It has also evolved into a top-tier plant breeding education institution globally and a leader in maize improvement in West and Central Africa.





Biodiversity Celebrated at CEA- CCBAD

The Africa Center of Excellence for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Agriculture (CEA-CCBAD) hosted by Felix Houphouët-Boigny University, La Cote d’Ivoire celebrated World Biodiversity Day on May 22, 2018.

To commemorate this day, the students initiated a series of activities that began with a conference on Saturday, May 19 under the theme “Celebrating 25 years of Action for Biodiversity”. The event was finalized on May 22, 2018, with the planting of trees on the Bingerville Scientific and Innovation Center campus to mark the International Day of Biodiversity. The event was supported by the WABES students.

WABES is an institution advocating the safeguarding of biodiversity, used this platform to educate and inform the participants on the importance of biodiversity in the ecosystem. Also, WABES pledged their continuous commitment to raising awareness on the usefulness of biodiversity.

The Biodiversity Day Celebrations was attended by the Coordinator of CEA-CCBAD, Professor Kone Daouda, and the Deputy Director of CEA-CCBAD, Professor Konate Souleymane. Also present was Director of the Scientific and Innovation Center, Felix Houphouët-Boigny University, Professor AKE, Director of WABES and students of the institution.







ACE stakeholders convene to discuss Progress and way forward for the Project

The Ninth ACE Project Workshop hosted by 2iE in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso featured plenary and parallel sessions. 
Participants were addressed by the General Director of 2iE, Professor Mady Koanda, the Secretary General of the Association of African Universities, Prof. Etienne Ehile and the World Bank team, represented by Himdat Bayusuf, who provided update on the milestones achieved by the ACEs and commended their efforts in implementing the project so far. It was mentioned that since the inception of the Project, about 1600 PhDs and 6000 Masters Students have been enrolled and 12 International Accreditation attained.
Other dignitaries who addressed participants included the ECOWAS Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Leopoldo Amado, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of Burkina- Faso, Prof. Alkassoum Maiga (Representative) and the World Bank Country Manager for Burkina Faso,  Mr. Cheick F. Kante (Representative).
The plenary for day two hosted the following sessions: ACE Project Progress Update by Professor Jonathan Mba; Aggregate M&E Results Progress – including disbursement, fund utilization and DLR achievement by Mrs Adeline Addy and Mrs Himdat Bayusuf; ACE 1 Supervision Mission Findings and a Question and Answer Session.
Summary of Discussions from Parallel Sessions
Working Group 1A (STEM 1) – CEFOR, CCBAD, PAMI, RWESCK, CEA MEM| Experts – Prof. M. Diallo and Prof. Gos Ekhaguere
Centers in this session discussed the fundamental issue of sustaining themselves at the end of the ACE project.  The promotion of university –industry linkages and attracting industry players to invest money into the ACEs was also discussed.  They agreed that the focus here was to approach industry with a win-win concept/proposal following a needs assessment process.
Working Group 1B (STEM 2) – CETIC, ENSEA, MITIC, SMA, OAK | Expert – Gen. X Michel
Each center presented their roadmaps, what they seek to achieve and how they plan to sustain the project after the World Bank funding among others. The expert noted that all centers had adopted a similar framework to that of the ACE project with a focus on education, research, linkages with industry etc. They were prompted that though this was a good approach, they could explore other frameworks in finalizing their plans.  ACEs were encouraged to be accurate in their strategy in terms of what they seek to achieve and be aware of competition in the market and strive to be different.
Working Group 2: Agric ACEs| Experts – Prof. R. Wohome, Dr. C. Larsen, Prof. Abubakar Akpa
The Agric ACEs discussed three key issues as follows 1) Exit strategy for the World Bank funding/sustainability of the ACEs after the end of the ACE1 project a) The Experts also advised ACEs to quickly assess how much DLI amount is remaining and plan a strategy to retrieve the money b) ACEs were encouraged to ensure that money given to them is properly spent and properly accounted for. c) Since there is the possibility that there may some money left unspent at the end of the ACE project, they are proposing that the World Bank sets up an oversight team to ensure that such monies are spent within 6months after the end of the project
2) The Agric team also worked on a joint advert being prepared to market their centers and attract students from different countries. 
3) Lastly, the team discussed a joint research and development proposal to be developed with a focus on promoting mobility and sustainability
Working Group 3: Health ACEs – ACEGID, WACCBIP, ACENTDFB, ACEPRD, CERHI, CEA-SAMEF| Expert – Prof. M Niescierenko
The various Health ACEs gave updates on progress made by their centres and the way forward. Based on the presentations, health expert, Michelle Niescierenko advised that the ACEs develop a plan to commercialize their services. ACES were encouraged to intensify efforts in attaining international laboratory accreditation to enable them reach a higher level of service commercialization.
A sustainability planning guide was shared by the Health expert to help the ACEs identify costs related to sustaining the centers core programming (education and research) and the centers operations (administrative and coordination).
Day 2 also featured a session on the ACE Impact Steering Committee Meeting which brought together country focal points, Project Steering Committee members, AAU and the World Bank teams. There were also ACE Operations Help Desks that focused on (i) ACE M&E Verification led by Mrs Adeline Addy and Dr Moustapha Lo and (ii) ACE DLI 2.8 and safeguards led by Maud Kouadio
All participants were treated to a scrumptious and entertainment-filled dinner hosted by the Government of Burkina Faso at the Laico Hotel. We are extremely grateful for this kind gesture by the Government of Burkina Faso
Please access some photos from Day 2 here –

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