Strengthening Agricultural Research and Partnerships through ACE Impact Project

Strengthening Agricultural Research and Partnerships through ACE Impact Project

Agriculture and its importance to Africa 

 Considered to be the backbone of economic systems of developing countries, agriculture is the mainstay of several African economies, underpinning their food security, export earnings, rural development, and economic stability.  Given the enormous importance of Agriculture to Africa’s economic development, the ACE Impact project prioritizes agriculture and has it as one of the five broad thematic areas being supported by the project.  

According to a report by the World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2020, agriculture’s contribution to GDP in Africa is at an average of 35%. Additionally, Africa achieved the highest rate of growth in agricultural production value (crops and livestock), the highest in the world, expanding by 4.3% per year between 2000 and 2018. This figure is roughly double that of the prior three decades (AGRA, 2020). Again, across Sub-Saharan Africa, the agricultural sector employs a proportion of the labor force and supplies the bulk of basic food, as well as provides subsistence and other income to a fraction of the population. It is noted that significant progress in promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, and enhancing food security cannot be achieved in most developing countries without enhancing the potential human and productive capacity of the agricultural sector and enhancing its contribution to overall economic and social development. A strong and vibrant food and agricultural system thus forms a primary pillar in the strategy of overall economic growth and development.    

Extensive research continues to be conducted, examining ways of enhancing the agricultural sector as a means of improving its socio-economic benefits. In line with this, current trends in agricultural research have focused on plant breeding, food security and technology, agribusiness, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), animal science, among others.  

The African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) posits that the Agric sector offers the greatest potential for poverty and inequality reduction, as it provides sources of productivity from which the most disadvantaged people working in the sector should benefit. As a result, national and private investments are being directed toward the development of agriculture within the region.   

   

ACE Impact Contributions to Agriculture 

 The project has seven Agric-oriented centers in six countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) focusing on areas including Food Security and Nutrition, Livestock and Poultry Science, Food Technology and Research, Dryland Agriculture, Crop Improvement, Climate Change/ Biodiversity, and Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Click here to see ACE Impact agriculture centres:  

Food Technology and Research(CEFTER); Regional Center of Excellence on Poultry Sciences (CERSA); African Center of Excellence in Agriculture for Food and Nutrition Security (CEA-AGRISAN) based at Cheikh Anta Diop University; West African Crop Improvement Center of Excellence (WACCI), Legon University, Ghana; – The Centre of Excellence Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) at the University of Bayero, Kano, Nigeria; African Centre of Excellence on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture (CEA- CCBAD) of the University Félix Houphouët Boigny; ACE: Pastoral Productions: Meat, Milk, Leather and Skins, Université Abdou Moumouni. 

 

Overall, the ACE Impact Agric focused centres have been undertaking impactful research (leading to the publication of 343 Research findings in high impact journals, and still counting), collaborating with international, regional and national institutions to innovate and to strengthen Agriculture’s contribution to their national and regional economies, among others.  Below are some key achievements of the Agric ACEs:

Food for West Africa Network 

In line with strengthening Inter-ACE collaborations, various thematic networks have been created under the ACE Impact Project. The Food for West Africa (FOOD4WA) is one of eight thematic networks established with the aim of advancing collaboration on cutting-edge research, to address food insecurity challenges within the region. The network’s objectives are:  

  1. To establish a network between faculty and students from the participating ACEs 
  2. Create a coordination of research on priority themes related to food security 
  3. Communicate the results of research and innovation through conferences and symposia involving key actors in the agricultural sector 
  4. Create a digital platform  

The network is expected to involve agriculture stakeholders within the region to strengthen food security, improve quality in agricultural products, train to increase the number of skilled agricultural workers and researchers and to develop innovative agricultural techniques to improve agricultural yields. 

Press Release – 6th ACE Impact Regional Workshop

For immediate Release

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Convene to Review the Project at Mid-term and Strengthen Project Implementation and Effectiveness

6th ACE Impact Regional Workshop to hold virtually from November 8th– 11th, 2021

 

Accra, Ghana (October 28, 2021) – The 6th biannual Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Regional Workshop will be held from November 8th – 11th, 2021. The meeting will bring together the fifty-three (53) Centres of Excellence, government representatives from participating countries, Vice Chancellors, representatives from the higher education sector, the private sector, policy think tanks, and partners such as the World Bank, the French Development Agency and the Association of African Universities as well as other key stakeholders.

Since its inception in 2019, the ACE Impact has recorded remarkable successes in enhancing quality post-graduate education in higher education institutions within the sub-region including Djibouti.  With the project having reached its mid-term, this workshop will present the unique opportunity for the discussion of critical issues which emerged during the Mid-Term Review process. The workshop will focus on the exchange of views concerning the project’s key achievements and overall status, as well as engaging valuable feedback and practical solutions towards project advancement and development in the next half of implementation.

Centres will be given the opportunity to share experiences and to network to foster collaborations for project sustainability. This opportunity ensures the project’s overarching goal- to improve the quality, quantity, and development impact of postgraduate education in Africa through regional specialization and collaboration, is being achieved.

 

Generally, key focus areas of the workshop will include:

  1. Progress update and key priority areas.
  2. Mid-Term Review (MTR) – offer an opportunity to project stakeholders to jointly revisit efficacy and effectiveness of project design and implementation approach and resolve operational bottlenecks.
  • Highlights on monitoring and evaluation related activities – Verification of Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs), updates on Development Impact, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
  1. Update on Networking initiatives – Inter-ACE Thematic Networks; Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET); Centers of Competence in Digital Education Initiative (C-CoDE)- an initiative to promote the sustainable integration of digital education in the teaching processes.
  2. Parallel sessions on monitoring and evaluation, financial management and disbursement, procurement, and safeguards.

 

Prior to the workshop, there will be a closed-door Ministerial meeting on November 8, 2021. Ministers of Education of the 10 participating countries, together with project partners, will convene to provide guidance on successful project implementation and sustainability.

The Opening Session will be held on Tuesday November 9, 2021 at 10:00am.

The ACE Impact project remains dedicated to building the capacities of all 53 centres to deliver quality education and produce the solutions to the continent’s development needs.

All ACE Impact key stakeholders are invited to actively participate in this workshop.

 

For more information on the ACE Impact Project, visit https://ace.aau.org/

 

  • END   –

 

 

Note to Editors

For further information, kindly contact Ms. Millicent Afriyie Kyei via email makyei@aau.org 

 

Background information:

The Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project is a World Bank initiative in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support Higher Education institutions in specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Agriculture, and Health. It is the first World Bank project aimed at the capacity building of higher education institutions in Africa. The first phase (ACE I) was launched in 2014 with 22 Centres of Excellence in Nine (9) West and Central African countries; Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. The Project aims to promote regional specialization among participating universities in areas that address specific common regional development challenges. It also aims to strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver high quality training and applied research as well as meet the demand for skills required for Africa’s development. The second phase (ACE II) was launched in East and Southern Africa with 24 centers across Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Based on the initial successes, the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD) in collaboration with the African governments, launched the ACE Impact Project in 2018 to strengthen post-graduate training and applied research in existing fields and support new fields that are essential for Africa’s economic growth. There are 43 ACEs (25 new ones and 18 from ACE I); 5 Emerging Centers;1 “top up” center in Social Risk Management; and 5 Colleges and Schools of Engineering. The new areas include sustainable cities; sustainable power and energy; social sciences and education; transport; population health and policy; herbal medicine development and regulatory sciences; public health; applied informatics and communication; and pastoral production.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT ORGANISERS

  • About the Association of African Universities (AAU):The Association of African Universities is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization created by African Universities to promote cooperation among them on the one hand, and between them and the international academic community on the other. Created in 1967, the AAU is the voice of higher education in Africa. AAU aims to improve the quality of African higher education, and to strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development by supporting the core functions of higher education institutions and facilitating critical reflection and consensus building on issues affecting higher education in Africa. The AAU is the Regional Facilitation Unit of the Africa Centres of Excellence project.

 

  • About the World Bank Group: The World Bank Group is a multilateral development institution that works to reduce poverty. Its subsidiary IDA (International Development Association) finances the Africa Centres of Excellence series of projects. Established in 1960, IDA helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.

 

  • About the French Development Agency:For more than 75 years, the French Development Agency (AFD) has been fighting global poverty by supporting policies and investments that benefit the poorest populations. Strengthening the social link between individuals, groups and territories are now at the heart of its actions in education, health, employment, urban planning, climate or biodiversity. For AFD, balanced development requires a real reduction in inequalities.

 

Click to download Press release

The C-CoDE Initiative kicks off to build competencies in digital education

In September 2021, the Association of African Universities under the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Project in collaboration with the EPFL – École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland) commenced the implementation of the Centers of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE) Initiative.

Six (6) ACE Impact host Universities were competitively selected and are being supported to establish Centers of Competence in Digital Education on their campuses to promote the sustainable integration of digital education in the teaching processes, as a means of strengthening the quality of teaching as well as the competencies of graduates.

A total of 12 applications were received from six different countries: eight from anglophone and four from francophone universities. The six selected universities are the National Open University of Nigeria; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria; University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, Ghana; Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, Bénin.

The participating ACE Centers in these universities include the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL), the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Power and Energy Development (ACE-SPED), the Africa Center of Excellence in Population Health and Policy(ACEPHAP); the Center for Dryland Agriculture(CDA), the Regional Center for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (RCEES); CEA-Centre d’Etudes, de Formation et de Recherche en Gestion des Risques Sociaux (CEFORGRIS) and CEA-SMIA (Centre d’Excellence Africain en Sciences, Mathématiques, Informatique et Application.

This pilot initiative will provide the participating institutions with the training and coaching to transform their educational curricula by integrating modern digital education methods. Each selected University will commit part of their funding from their ACE Impact project (s) towards acquisition of the necessary equipment and a venue to house their C-CoDE. Thirty (30) faculty, three (3) pedagogy engineers and two (2) technical specialists have been identified from each participating university and are being trained. This pilot is being implemented from September 2021 to July 2022.

The broader goal is for the selected Centers to eventually serve other African higher education institutions using a training-the-trainers model, within the broader ACE Impact project portfolio and beyond – across the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region.

On September 21 and 22, the participating universities were engaged in meetings to provide additional information and to launch the operational aspects of the project. Each participating university has identified and confirmed three faculty members that are being trained as experts in digital education. The selected trainees were given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Open edX training platform and training materials during the preparation week.

The first workshop for the anglophone participants took place from 4-15 October 2021. The first workshop for the francophone participants is going on from 18-29 October 2021.

Training is innovatively delivered using the flipped classroom style. The quality and engaging learning materials and activities were prepared in advance and made available on the EPFL Open edX platform. The participants study and prepare themselves ahead of the live sessions. During the virtual live sessions, the facilitators provide clarifications concerning the content and learning activities that participants would have gone through. Live sessions are used to building and sharing common knowledge through group activities, live discussions, and presentations. Participants are also exposed to and encouraged to use a variety of online tools and technologies to interact and put in practice teaching paradigms.

 

Contact Information

For further information, kindly contact Dr Sylvia Mkandawire via smkandawire@aau.org and copy Mr Yann Kerloch yann.kerloch@epfl.ch

 

Background information

The Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project is a World Bank initiative in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support Higher Education institutions in specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Agriculture, and Health. The Project aims to promote regional specialization among participating universities in areas that address specific common regional development challenges. It also strengthens the capacities of these universities to deliver high quality training and applied research as well as meet the demand for skills required for Africa’s development. Based on the initial successes, the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD) in collaboration with the African governments, launched the ACE Impact Project in 2018 to strengthen post-graduate training and applied research in existing fields and support new fields that are essential for Africa’s economic growth. There are 43 ACEs (25 new ones and 18 from ACE I); 5 Emerging Centers;1 “top up” center in Social Risk Management; and 5 Colleges and Schools of Engineering.

 

About the Association of African Universities (AAU)

The Association of African Universities is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization created by African Universities to promote cooperation among them on the one hand, and between them and the international academic community on the other. Created in 1967, the AAU is the voice of higher education in Africa. AAU aims to improve the quality of African higher education, and to strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development by supporting the core functions of higher education institutions and facilitating critical reflection and consensus building on issues affecting higher education in Africa. The AAU is the Regional Facilitation Unit of the Africa Centres of Excellence project.

 

About the World Bank Group

The World Bank Group is a multilateral development institution that works to reduce poverty. Its subsidiary IDA (International Development Association) finances the Africa Centres of Excellence series of projects. Established in 1960, IDA helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.

About EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)

EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors, and staff from over 120 nations. Founded in 1853, the École Spéciale de Lausanne was renamed École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in 1969. EPFL is a research-intensive institution specializing in Science, Technology and Engineering with a strong focus on Life Science and Digital Sciences. It is one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, and it has three main missions: education, research and technology transfer. EPFL is a bilingual Technological University (French-English) located on the shores of Lake of Geneva in Lausanne (Switzerland). EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

 

 

 

Stanford University Names ACE-FUELS Director Among World Top Scientists

Professor Emeka Oguzie, the Centre Director for the Africa Centre of Excellence for Future Energies and Electrochemical Systems(ACE FUELS), hosted by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) has being named by the Stanford University among the top 2 percent of the most cited scientist in various disciplines (Civil, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Physics, Biosciences and Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, among others) in the world. The list comprises 159, 683 individuals with nearly 1500 scientists, doctors and engineers globally.

The report was prepared by a team led by Professor John P. A. Loannisis of Stanford University. Prof. Loannisis is a renowed scientist whose enormous contributions in evidence-based medicine, epidemiology and clinical research have been globally celebrated. The database was created to provide updated analyses and a publicly available database of top scientists that provide standardized information on citations, h-index, co-authorship-adjusted hm-index, citations to papers in different authorship positions, and a composite indicator.

About Professor Emeka Oguzie
Professor Emeka Oguzie leads the multidisciplinary Electrochemistry and Materials Science Research Unit at FUTO. He is noted for his insightful works in the fields of Chemistry and Materials Science. Prof. Oguzie is also the President of the International Family Foundation.
He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Pure Chemistry from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, M.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry from the Federal University of Technology Owerri and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Calabar.

About Stanford University
The Stanford University is a US based University noted for its academic and research excellence. According to the 2020 edition of the QS World University Rankings, Stanford University is the 2nd highest- ranking university in the world.

Source: talk.com

CERHI/ACEGID Partnership Wins Grant for Validation of Rapid Diagnostic COVID-19 Test Kits

The Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI), University of Benin in collaboration with the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) hosted by the Redeemer’s University and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) have been awarded a Grant to validate Rapid Diagnostic Tests kits (RDT) for COVID-19 testing in Nigeria.

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a research consortium between CERHI and UBTH for the testing of the SARS COV-2 virus. With CERHI’s laboratories and facilities, including RT-PCR machine for testing for the virus and UBTH’s expertise in managing infectious diseases, the unit was validated by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to become the second testing unit in Edo State, and one of the few in Nigeria. Similarly, the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) successfully sequenced the genomes of the COVID-19 virus and was the first institution to do so in Africa. Considering this knowledge and expertise, the three institutions partnered to apply for a Grant on the validation of RDTs in Nigeria. Led by Professor Friday E. Okonofua, Centre leader of CERHI and Professor Christian Happi, Centre Leader of ACEGID, the team’s proposal was selected for funding and implementation.  The CERHI/UBTH/ACEGID team is one of the 5 teams selected to develop and implement a national protocol for the validation of RDT kits for COVID-19 in Nigeria. The projected timeline for completion of this project is four months.

The importance of this project stems from the fact that available rapid tests for COVID-19 in Nigeria have not been validated and as a result, this project will contribute to the validation of the rapid COVID-19 tests, comparing the sensitivities and predictive results obtained from their use with the gold standard and the PCR test.  If the rapid tests are found to be sensitive and accurate, it will expand access to COVID-19 testing to millions of Nigerians, and the continent at large.

The Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI) and Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) are part of the 53 Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) supported by World Bank through the coordination of the Association of African Universities as the Regional Facilitation Unit. The ACE Impact project aims to address regional developmental challenges through quality post-graduate education and applied research (https://ace.aau.org/).

CERHI implements high quality training and applied research for reproductive health professionals. The centre is also a leading name in the development and implementation of several ground-breaking researches in the field of sexual and reproductive health and population studies within the continent (https://www.cerhiuniben.edu.ng/).

ACEGID focuses on capacity building of African scientists in the field of genomics. The centre aims to translate the research outcome to products that can be deployed to the field to contribute to the control, management and elimination of infectious diseases in the continent (https://acegid.org/).

KEEP Opens Applications for PhD, MPhil and MSc Programmes in Engineering

The College of Engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) calls for applications into its  PhD, MPhil and MSc  Programmes in Engineering.

PhD Programme 

The College, through the School of Graduate Studies, KNUST is pleased to announce the availability of limited partial funding to pursue a 3-year full time programmes in the following:
• PhD Bio-engineering
• PhD Computer Engineering
• PhD Materials Engineering
• PhD Sustainable Energy Technologies
• PhD Telecommunications Engineering
• PhD Chemical Engineering
• PhD Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Female candidates are highly encouraged to apply to take advantage of the funding opportunities available.

Entry Requirement
In conformity with the entry requirement of the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the successful candidate should have a minimum of:
• First or Second Class (Upper Division) in first degree
• Good Master’s degree with an average of at least 60%. Please refer to (POSTGRADUATE ADMISSIONS BROCHURE) for specific requirements related to the programme being applied for.
• Age limit is 40 years
In addition
• Candidates from non-Anglophone countries must have an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language (TOEFL or British Council, IELTS)with above average score or be available to attend a three (3) months English language course at KNUST.
• Candidates with one publication in a journal as first author have an advantage.
• Evidence of current and previous employments.

Masters Programme (MSc/MPhil)

The College of Engineering is pleased to announce that limited partially-funded scholarships are available for applicants from Ghana and West African Countries to pursue 18 months full-time MSc programme or 24 months MPhil in the following specializations:
• MPhil Computer Engineering
• MPhil Bio-engineering
• MPhil Materials Engineering
• MPhil Power Systems Engineering
• MPhil Chemical Engineering
• MPhil Renewable Energy Technologies
• MPhil Telecommunications Engineering
• MSc Cyber Security and Digital Forensics
• MSc Renewable Energy Technologies

Females are encouraged to apply to take advantage of the funding opportunities available.

Entry Requirement

In conformity with the entry requirement of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the successful candidate will should have a minimum of:
• First or Second Class (Upper Division) in first degree in a relevant field. Please refer to (POSTGRADUATE ADMISSIONS BROCHURE) for relevant degrees for admission into your programme of choice.
• Candidates from non-Anglophone countries must have an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language (TOEFL or British Council, IELTS) with above average score or be available to attend a three (3) months English language course at KNUST.

Completing Application Form
Ghanaian Students: Candidates must purchase an e-voucher by paying the application fee of Two Hundred and Fifty Ghana Cedis (GH¢250.00) at the following banks: GCB, Consolidated Bank (CBG) or Ecobank. Upon payment of application fee, candidiates would receive an eVoucher containing an application number and pin that would grant access to the online admission portal. Candidates should then proceed to the online admission portal (https://apps.knust.edu.gh/admissions/) and begin the application process.
International students: Access the KNUST application form via: Admission Portal (https://apps.knust.edu.gh/admissions/)and complete application form and attach all relevant documents
• Once the process has been completed, candidates MUST PRINT OUT 2 COPIES of the completed application form from the portal and submit signed copies (by post) to the School of Graduate Studies together with all relevant documents including Photocopies of Certificates, Recommendation Letters, and Transcript to the following address:
The Secretary
School of Graduate Studies
KNUST
Kumasi-Ghana

Deadline for the submission of application forms is 30th June, 2020.

Shortlisted candidates will be required to attend a selection interview in Kumasi OR via telephone/Skype. The date of the interview will be communicated after short listing.

Application supporting documents
• Completed application form with Two passport photographs
• Detailed CV and two letters of reference (one from a supervisor at the Master’s level)
• Official transcripts and certificates for BSc and MSc degrees
• Proof of ability to communicate in English for Candidates from non-Anglophone countries
• PhD and MPhil candidates are to submit soft and hard copies of a letter of motivation (max. two pages) with the heading outlining why you want to study, what makes you well-suited to study in your chosen specialization, current occupation, how the Programme will fit into your professional vision, how your home country stands to benefit after your training.
• PhD and MPhil candidates are to submit both soft and hard copies of a short concept note (max. 3 pages) outlining the justification, objectives, methodology and expected outcomes of a research idea.

Contact
All inquiries should be sent via email keep@knust.edu.gh

ACE for Impact Centers respond to COVID19

Overview

The life-threatening nature of the COVID19 pandemic has been felt globally – its influence on global education systems is also being felt in Africa. Activities in African higher education institutions (HEIs) were suspended by various governments in order to contain the spread of the virus. Many of these institutions are host universities of the Africa Centers of Excellence for Development Impact project (ACE Impact) and as a result, activities of these Centers were slowed down. However, as part of their objectives to address regional developmental challenges, the ACE Impact Centers initiated measures to support the containment and management of the virus in all 11 participating countries within the West African sub region.

What is an Africa Center of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE for Impact Center)

These are largely competitively selected faculties, schools or colleges within an African University. The ACE Impact Centers focus on STEM, Agriculture, Environment, Health and applied Social Sciences / Education thematic areas. As part of the ACE for Development Impact project they are mandated to deliver quality undergraduate and post-graduate programs, promote regional academic mobility, address national and regional problems through research and promote best practices to their entire university systems.

Challenges faced by the ACEs for Development Impact Centers

The Association of African Universities, which is the Regional Facilitation Unit for the ACE Impact project,  in collaboration with the World Bank conducted a survey to understand steps taken by the ACE for Impact Centers in addressing the pandemic to ensure continuous teaching and learning. Subsequently, a virtual meeting was held with the Centers to validate information collected through the survey.  The survey results indicated challenges faced by the Centers and they pertain to infrastructure ; skills ; e-Platforms; limited time to plan and implement alternative solutions; limited commitment of staff and students to online learning; funding challenges and infection risks.

A review of how the ACE for Development Impact Centers in West Africa are responding to COVID19

Even though the ACE Impact Centers are facing numerous challenges, they are still contributing their quota in helping countries within the West African sub-region manage the crisis. The Centers have so far responded to the COVID19 pandemic by using technology for teaching, learning and research; engaging in innovative and groundbreaking research activities and participating in community outreach activities and services.

  1. Notably, there has been groundbreaking research going on in different centers to provide immediate solutions that can support the management of the pandemic. The researches have so far led to the sequencing of the virus, abilities to carry out massive testing and online screening of individuals’ risk levels, among others.
  2. In line with the ACE for development impact project objective to contribute to regional development through applied research, the centers are doing research to address societal needs. These efforts have included the production of personal protection equipment such as  face shields through 3D printing,  manufacturing of ventilators, production of nose masks, production of alcoholic gels and hand sanitizers and manufacturing of hand washing equipment for communities in their respective countries.
  3. Several Centers have also created mathematical models to help assess and predict the spread of the virus and the possibility of confinement in certain cities.

These initiatives are all key towards preventing the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

DOWNLOAD Table that profiles individual ACE for Impact Centers’ Efforts towards responding to COVID 19

About the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project       

The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) Project is a World Bank initiative in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support Higher Education institutions in specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Environment, Agriculture, applied Social Science / Education and Health. It is the first World Bank project aimed at the capacity building of higher education institutions in Africa. The first phase (ACE I) was launched in 2014 with 22 Centers of Excellence in nine (9) West and Central African countries; Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. The Project aims to promote regional specialization among participating universities in areas that address specific common regional development challenges. It also aims to strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver high quality training and applied research as well as meet the demand for skills required for Africa’s development. The second phase (ACE II) was launched in East and Southern Africa with 24 centers across Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Based on the initial successes, the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD) in collaboration with the African governments, launched the ACE Impact Project in 2018 to strengthen post-graduate training and applied research in existing fields and support new fields that are essential for Africa’s economic growth. There are 43 ACEs (25 new ones and 18 from ACE I); 5 Emerging Centers;1 “top up” center in Social Risk Management; and 5 Colleges and Schools of Engineering. The new areas include sustainable cities; sustainable power and energy; social sciences and education; transport; population health and policy; herbal medicine development and regulatory sciences; public health; applied informatics and communication; and pastoral production.

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

ACEI and ACE IMPACT Official Opening Ceremony held in Djibouti on Wednesday 20 February 2019

The much-anticipated opening ceremony for the Africa Centres of Excellence for Development Impact Project was held on the morning of Wednesday 20th February 2019 at Kempinski Hotel in Djibouti City, Djibouti. Dr Saida Chideh Soliman was the madam of ceremonies. In attendance were the President of the Republic of Djibouti H.E. Mr Ismail Omar Guelleh, the First Lady of the Republic of Djibouti, The Honourable Minister of Higher Education and Research in Djibouti, H.E. Dr Nabil Mohamed Ahmed, the Secretary General of the Association of African Universities, Prof Etienne Ehouan Ehile, the Djibouti World Bank Country Representative, Mr Atou Seck, and the French Development Agency Deputy Manager for Education, Vocational Training and Employment Sector, Ms Valerie Tehio. 

Remarks by the Secretary General of the AAU

Professor Etienne Ehouan Ehile applauded the President of the Republic of Djibouti for taking time out of his busy schedule to participate in the ACE IMPACT Official Opening Ceremony. He said that this confirmed the President’s commitment to the Education Agenda in Djibouti and Africa as a whole. He also thanked the Government of Djibouti for supporting the hosting of the 2019 ACE meetings. He reminded the audience about the African Union Commission Policies and International Development Policies that promote the growth of education. He reiterated that strategic investments in Higher Education were critical for national development. On a lighter note he asked the President to ‘always remember the gratitude of the higher education stakeholders when he hears the cock crowing every morning’. Please Click Here for the Full Speech of the AAU Secretary General

Remarks by the Representative of the French Development Agency

Ms Valerie Tehio the Deputy Manager for Education, Vocational Training and Employment Sector made remarks on behalf of the French Development Agency (AFD). She said that the AFD was honoured to be part of this event and the ambitious ACE IMPACT program. AFD looks forward to contributing to the success of the ACE IMPACT project – through complementary support for regional networking and funding of technical experts to support selected ACEs. She concluded by wishing the participants successful meetings.

Remarks by the Djibouti World Bank Country Representative

Mr Atou Seck thanked all the participants for coming to Djibouti to attend the scheduled meetings. He also thanked all the institutions represented for their willingness to collaborate. He paid tribute to Mr Andreas Blom for his well-documented efforts towards strengthening African Universities. He mentioned that Djibouti was selected as an emerging Centre of Excellence in Africa in the field of logistics and transport within the faculty of engineering. He predicted that in future people would come to Djibouti to learn about transport and logistics or to do cutting edge research in the areas of transport and logistics.

Remarks by the Minister of Higher Education and Research, Djibouti

H.E. Dr Nabil Mohamed Ahmed welcomed the participants to “Djibouti the land of encounters, the land of peace and the land of engagements”. He expressed his joy that this event had materialized as per his vision. He paid tribute to the World Bank and AAU for supporting the Government of Djibouti to hold the ACE meetings in Djibouti City. He also congratulated the University of Djibouti Vice Chancellor for successfully spearheading the associated planning and logistics. He emphasized that it was the responsibility of Africans to work hard and ensure that educational institutions were effective and that the certificates given were recognized internationally. He said that Africa needed to catch up in the area of applied new technologies. Djibouti needs to optimize the transport chain by harnessing technology. Djibouti must exploit its competitive advantage as a transport hub. There is also an urgent need to increase the number of Djiboutian women Professors

The Message from the Honourable President of the Republic of Djibouti

His Excellency Mr Ismail Omar Guelleh the President of the Republic of Djibouti congratulated the organizers and the participants for the holding of the conference and the launch of the ACE IMPACT Project. He thanked the partners for positioning Higher Education to support the socio-economic development of African countries. He voiced his delight that Djibouti was now a member of the restricted club of ACE universities. He reminded the audience that he was a firm believer in providing African solutions to African problems. Therefore, he was thrilled that the ACE Djibouti would focus on logistics and transport. The President said that the transport sector was the “lungs of Djibouti”. Djibouti was ready to exploit its strategic location. There was a need to digitize the transport and transit procedures for the Djibouti transport sector. He underscored that scientific and technical development was therefore key. He ended his remarks by stating that he believed in the capacities of African countries, the youth and African researchers. He officially declared the conference opened.

Links to some photos.

AAU Staff pose for a photo with some participants during the ACE Impact Opening Ceremony in Djibouti
A cross-section of the attendees during the ACE IMPACT Opening Ceremony on the 20th February 2019 in Djibouti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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