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

Written by Millicent Afriyie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mapping the Capabilities of Using Data in African Higher Education Institutions: A case Study of 36 ACE Impact Host Universities

Written By: Ms. Nodumo Dhlamini – Director ICT Services, Communications and Knowledge Management at AAU

Background

The ability of any institution to use data is critical because when data is well managed, it can be used to support decision making through the mapping and understanding of emerging data trends. Well managed data facilitate key strategic initiatives and actions that help improve business performance and relationships with stakeholders.

African Universities collect great amounts of data on students, staff, curricula, research, partnerships, and other areas – but more still needs to be done for African Universities to benefit from the data that they collect. Issues hindering them from maximizing the benefits from their data, include weak management information systems, limited data skills, gaps in the data collected, inadequate human resources to manage data functions, and limited institutional policies to promote data prioritization.

In addition, this century is characterized by the prevalence of new data sources that is sometimes referred to as Big Data. This new data emanates from the social media, various online systems, and many ‘silent’ data collection processes. In line with these developments, it is very important that African Universities sift through such data and turn useful and important new data into a resource that informs curricula, student services, partnerships, resource mobilization, among several other important functional areas of universities.

Benchmarking Initiatives for African Universities

There are two major benchmarking initiatives that were initiated for African Universities – the PASET (Partnership for Applied Skills in Engineering and Technology) Regional Benchmarking Initiative developed by the World Bank and the AQRM (African Quality Rating Mechanism) developed by the African Union Commission. Both benchmarking initiatives aim to strengthen the capacities of African Universities to self-study, self-analyze and self-assess using set standards and ultimately use these results to improve their processes and performances. Both the PASET Regional Benchmarking Initiative and the AQRM have a set of indicators that universities use to self-report on their status in relation to these indicators.

The PASET Regional Benchmarking methodology is based on five institutional performance and eight institutional health indicators. The five institutional performance indicators concentrate on Inclusion and Equity; Learning Achievement; Labor Market Outcomes; Research Results; and Technology Transfer Results. The eight institutional health indicators focus on Inclusion and Equity; Quality of Teaching and Learning; Relevance; Internationalization; Research; Community Service & Technology Transfer; Governance & Management; and Financing.

The AQRM benchmarking methodology has three parts, namely institutional general information, institutional level self-rating and programme level self-rating. The institutional general information indicators include Institutional Profile; Student Profile; Facilities; Faculty / Staff Profile; Governance & Management; Teaching & Learning; Linkage with the Industry Sector; Research & Community Outreach; Internationalization; and Rating of Best Three Departments /Subject Areas. The self-rating indicators at institutional level concentrate on Governance & Management; Infrastructure; Finance; Teaching & Learning; Research, Publication & Innovation; and Community/Societal Engagement. The self-rating indicators at programme level focus on Programme Planning & Management; Curriculum Development; Teaching & Learning; Assessment; and Programme Results.

PASET Regional Benchmarking Initiative

At the just ended 7th ACE Impact Regional Workshop that was hosted in Benin, Dr Jingwen Mu from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, spoke on the progress that the ACE Impact Host Universities have made towards achieving the goals of the Disbursement Linked Result 7.4 (DLR7.4) which encourages the Host Universities to participate in the PASET Regional Benchmarking initiative. DLR7.4 is one of the sub- indicators that is used by the ACE Impact Project to measure the impact of the project on the overall universities’ functions, that is, how the project is impacting the processes at the universities’ institutional levels.

The first PASET benchmarking pilot in 2014 involved seven universities, the second round in 2016 involved 31 universities, and the third round in 2018 involved 26 universities. These earlier benchmarking activities revealed that the participating universities were challenged with reporting and finding the data that was required as part of self-benchmarking. For example, during the 2018 and 2021 PASET Benchmarking exercises, the participating universities said that they needed support in the areas of institutional research, quality assurance, MIS (management information systems) capacity development and conducting benchmarking and graduate tracer studies. These declared needs by the universities proved that they were facing difficulties in meeting the full benchmarking data requirements of the PASET self-benchmarking methodology. MIS support was identified by participating institutions as a top critical area where support was most needed.

‘As part of revising the PASET self-benchmarking methodology, the project team decided to initially assess the data systems maturity of ACE Impact Host Universities – instead of requiring that they respond to the set self-benchmarking questions’, said Dr Jingwen Mu. ‘It was within this context that DLR 7.4 proposed a two-phase approach, in which Phase 1 asked ACE Impact host institutions to complete a self-assessment of their institutional data systems’, added Dr Jingwen Mu.

Data System Maturity Survey involving 36 ACE Impact Host Universities

It was reported that a free open source data maturity framework called DataOrchard was chosen and adapted to assess the “data maturity journeys” of all the ACE Impact Host Universities. The data maturity assessment aimed to inspire the universities to work “towards improvement and increased capability in using data”.  This Framework, created by Data Orchard CIC, has been developed specifically for the non-for-profit sector and has seen its adoption by higher education institutions. It was mentioned that the adapted version of the Framework for ACE Impact institutions is a simplified version that encourages participants to focus on three key themes of a healthy data system – People, Technology, and Culture. The host institutions’ survey responses were aggregated and rated at both the ‘theme-level’ and the ‘overall level’ and classified into one of the five stages of data system maturity: Unaware, Emerging, Learning, Developing, and Mastering.

Dr. Jingwen Mu reported that 36 ACE Impact host institutions had participated in the Data System Maturity Assessment as part of preparing them for the PASET self-benchmarking. The findings from the data system maturity assessment were that the participating universities fell into three categories – 14 host universities were found to be in the Learning Group in terms of their data systems maturity; 19 host universities were placed in the Developing Group and 3 host universities were placed in the Mastering Group.

Three Host Universities graded in the mastering group were said to be most advanced in the way that they collect, manage, and use their data. Mastering Universities are very comfortable using data to ask difficult and complex questions, explained Dr. Mu.

Nineteen Host Universities in the developing group were reported to be starting to use and share data at institutional levels.  People from various teams and levels of seniority in these institutions regularly discuss data and how to use it, expounded Dr. Mu.

Fourteen Host Universities in the learning group were said to be characterized by the fact that data was beginning to be recognized as important at more senior levels, however access to data was still challenged.

Dr. Jingwen Mu said that even those universities that were graded to be masters, also have much more to learn towards improving their data management systems. Dr. Jingwen Mu also cautioned that the results of the ACE Impact Data System Maturity Assessment needed to be interpreted in the context of the adapted version of the data maturity framework and in the context of the PASET DLR 7.4 objectives.

As a follow up to the Data System Maturity Assessment, the ACE Impact host universities were given a personalized report that indicated areas of strengths and weaknesses. Currently these institutions are developing institutional intervention plans as their responses to the outcomes of the Data System Maturity Assessment, said Dr Jingwen Mu.

During the question-and-answer session, the participants asked for advice on how to handle resistance by team members to new ways of handling data. Dr. Jingwen Mu said that in the context of Africa, it was important to demonstrate what faculty currently do and what they can do with data or how they can improve their processes because of data. She advised that staff needed to be educated about the importance of data in helping universities better engage students and stakeholders. Such efforts in demonstrating the usefulness of data would reduce their resistance, advised Dr. Jingwen Mu.

Key Lessons for other African Universities

  1. Data capability is very important for the sustainability and relevance of African Higher Education Institutions (HEIs); thus, it is important that HEIs strengthen their data skills, transform their data cultures and reinforce their data management technologies.
  2. Assessing the data systems maturity of African Universities might be an important starting point as opposed to insisting that the universities move straight into self-benchmarking. The value of the data systems maturity assessment is that it prepares the universities to provide the required data during self-benchmarking.
  3. There is an opportunity for the two benchmarking methodologies (PASET and AQRM) to integrate the good aspects of the other – and for the universities that have used these methodologies to share experiences.
  4. The adapted data systems maturity assessment could be deployed across all interested universities in Africa – and this would assist the universities to advance their journeys towards data systems maturity.

 

Centres of Excellence Explore More Effective Ways to Accelerate Development Impact in the Region

To propel the overarching goal of the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact), and to ensure that the research outputs of higher education institutions  address national and regional challenges, the Disbursement Linked Indicator (DLI 2) was instituted.  The DLI2 indicator measures the development impact that Centres are having, both nationally and regionally in terms of the extent of their contribution to their respective sectors/industries. It supports the advancement of applied research, training of quality post graduates, industry linkages and innovativeness aimed at tackling societal challenges.  Its evaluation criteria include the number of student internships recorded by a centre, number of graduates hired in the sector, number of short courses delivered in response to sectoral stakeholder requests and an evaluation of Sectoral Advisory Board annual reports, as well as feedback obtained from interviews with sectoral stakeholders. The DLI 2, is coordinated by Technopolis in close collaboration with the Regional Facilitation Unit -the Association of African Universities and the World Bank.

 

At the ongoing 7th ACE Impact Regional Workshop, a session on Development Impact was held to provide the opportunity for an interactive discussion on how the centres are progressing towards achieving development impact in line with the project objectives. Chaired by Dr. Joshua Atah, the Focal Member for Nigeria, the session benefited from panel discussions involving Prof. Gordon Awandare from the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogen (WACCBIP), Prof. Emenike Ejiogu, Center leader for Africa Center of Excellence for Sustainable Power and Energy Development (ACE_SPED) and Prof. Daouda Mama, Center leader for the Africa Center of Excellence for Water and Sanitation (C2EA).

A presentation by the main speaker, Ms. Anneloes de Ruiter, a Senior Consultant with the Technopolis Group, noted that the primary goal of the ACE Impact project to enhance regional capacity and to produce high-quality research for sustainable solutions to solving the challenges within the region, has heightened the need to assess the key and long-term effects of centres achievements and activities. She provided insights to observations made during the verification of centres for the DLI 2 prior to the 7th regional workshop. She emphasized that some centres have well-established academic and industry connections; distinct research, innovation, and education policies; adaptable and flexible responses to the pandemic as well as excellent understanding of the added value and positioning in the international/ regional/national research landscape. She further added that using existing opportunities, the ACEs must fully engage their alumni and include grooming them to serve as ambassadors, future faculty, and collaborators. She encouraged centres to forge partnerships for collaborative efforts toward making effective impact.

Highlighting WACCBIP’s strategy for public and community engagement, Prof. Awandare explained that the centre prioritized the establishment of a communication and public engagement unit to facilitate research communication and interactions with the public and the media. He noted that the unit has been a major game-changer in enhancing the centre’s visibility. Some key activities have included communicating complex research outputs in simple and relatable language that is easily digestible by the public. In addition, the unit has been at the forefront of organizing fora, press engagements and community outreach programs aimed at publicizing the centre’s research outputs.

Speaking on impact, Prof. Ejiogu noted that ACE-SPED’s impact has focused on its immediate environment- the university. He emphasized the centre’s efforts to tackle power challenges at the University of Nsukka, Nigeria through extensive research and prudent measures. He added that the centre has leveraged partnerships with local power and energy companies to access internship opportunities for students. In terms of regional partnerships, ACE-SPED had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Africa Power Pool – a specialized agency of ECOWAS targeting the generation of a self-reliant regional power market which delivers abundant affordable electricity to all member states.

Prof. Mama emphasized C2EA’s partnerships with both the public and private sectors. He stated that the centre’s partnership with the Water Management Authority in Benin enables them to conduct research and share its findings to advise policymakers on water and sanitation.

Additionally, panel members also shared challenges faced by their centres in addressing developmental challenges. Key areas of concern were related to procurement delays, financial and administrative bureaucracies, lack of effective policies to facilitate scientific research and the timely acquisition of science equipment.

Centres were advised by Ms. De Ruiter to ensure that their activities are strategically executed to provide a sustainable long-term impact that transcends the academic community. In addition, centres were encouraged by the panel members to invest in high-quality staff, foster regional and international collaborations and empower young people in their teams as well as maximize the potential of their  strengths to achieve their goals.

In his closing remarks, the Chair entreated centres to put in place efficient measures for project sustainability beyond the World Bank funding.

 

Written By: Millicent Afriyie Kyei, ACE Impact Communications Officer

The Fight against COVID-19: How ACE-Impact health centres supported a stronger regional response through cutting-edge & innovative research

The Fight against COVID-19: How ACE-Impact health centres cutting-edge & innovative research supported a stronger regional response

Written By Mrs. Felicia Nkrumah Kuagbedzi

The African Continent, and by extension the world, suffered the brutal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in its various sectors including the higher education sector.  This article profiles the impressive contribution of the Health Centres under the ACE Impact project, in responding to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic on society.

Responses by the Centres, included the conduction of groundbreaking scientific research, technological innovations and sensitization of the general public.   Others included the provision of technical advice to governments and various national and continental level institutions on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Interventions

The centres have been instrumental in conducting cutting-edge research to guide the development of new approaches to disease diagnosis, prevention, and control. During the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) hosted by the Redeemer’s University in Nigeria and the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) hosted by the University of Ghana were the first institutions in the sub-region to sequence the SARS-CoV 2 virus genomes to track mutations. In addition, CERHI and ACENTDFB (both in Nigeria) made available their ultra-modern laboratories in support of PCR tests for the COVID-19 virus.

The Conduction of Groundbreaking Scientific Research

 

Centres of Excellence in the fields of genomics and infectious diseases were instrumental in the genomic sequencing of the virus. Notable among the centres were ACEGID and WACCBIP The centres successfully sequenced genomes of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) and also tracked mutations of the virus leading to the discovery of the new variants in the respective host countries and the continent at large. ACEGID alone tested over 141,000 samples from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Rwanda, Gabon and Algeria, and was one of the first within the region to identify the Alpha, Beta, Delta, Omicron, 20A, 20B, 20C, 20G, among other variants of the virus. WACCBIP was also the only center to conduct nation- wide sequencing covering all the 16 regions of Ghana. Between 2020-2022, over 20,000 tests were conducted across Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. The center also identified the first cases of Alpha, Eta, Omicron, BA2, BA4 among other variants in Ghana.

Again, ACEGID developed a COVID 19 screening tool to measure individual risk levels. WACCBIP also developed a scalable test that can perform large scale screenings and rapidly test thousands to millions of samples at a given time as well as an affordable Antigen test developed in collaboration with the University of Southampton. Several research publications on mutations and management of the COVID-19 virus have been published by both centres including the first African manuscript of genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 variations published by WACCBIP.

Collectively, ACEGID and WACCBIP supported over 30 other African countries in terms of genome sequencing, training of scientists, and guiding government policies in terms of managing the spread of the virus. These countries include Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Djibouti, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, among others.

The contributions of these centres have been acknowledged by governments of the host countries, continental and international bodies -including the World Health Organization and the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, media houses and various stakeholders within and outside the science fraternity. In addition, WACCBIP and ACEGID received funds from various donors and development partners to strengthen COVID-19 research among other research activities of the centres. ACEGID received over US$ 58million from the Rockefeller Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, among others. WACCBIP also benefited from over US$6 million in funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ACE-partner Programme through the WANIDA Network, K FCDO Ghana Partnerships Beyond Aids Programme, WELLCOME/FCDO Grant, the Rockefeller Foundation, among others.

Other centres such as the Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Health Innovation (CERHI) and the Africa Centre of Excellence for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology (ACENTDFB) both in Nigeria also availed their centres’ laboratories for further relevant research.

Technological Innovations

Some of the non-health thematic ACEs came up with technological inventions which contributed greatly to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centre for Mathematics, Computer Science, and ICT (CEA-MITIC), Senegal developed a software for the electronic management of COVID-19 patients’ files and an application (app) for self-screening. The app is used to assess user symptoms and exposure to determine their risk of infection. In addition, ACEGID developed a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which showed over 90 percent effectiveness during preclinical trials. The centre for the Teaching & Learning of Math and Science for Sub-Saharan Africa (CEA-MS4SSA) produced solar-powered hand washing equipment for institutions in Niger. Given that power supply is intermittent in many places across Africa, such solar-powered handwashing equipments are highly essential, as they ensure a smooth and uninterrupted operation process, thus facilitating frequent hand washing, and curtailing the spread of Covid-19 in many communities and environments.

 

Public Sensitization and Mass Production of Protective Items

The Centres worked closely with their host universities to raise awareness about the need for heightened hygiene practices. This was achieved using different channels such as posters, digital campaigns, memos and publication in the media. ACEs such as the Centre for Public Health and Toxicological Research (ACE-PUTOR), Centre of Excellence for Population Health and Policy (ACEPHAP), Africa Centre of Excellence for Drug Research, Herbal Medicine Development and Regulatory Science (ACEDHARS), engaged in diverse sensitization campaigns to enhance knowledge of the public on the pandemic. These centres contributed greatly to the production of protective items for use in their respective countries

ACE IN FOCUS – ACETEL

ACE IN FOCUSACETEL 

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

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

Why is ACETEL special? 

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

Its core values are: 

 

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

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

Pre-Call for Applications for Additional Financing under the African higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE II AF)

In collaboration with the Governments of Ghana, Malawi, and Mozambique, the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) are jointly launching a Call for Proposals under the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project (ACE II). This initiative is proposed to be financed through Additional Financing to ACE II to be reviewed by the World Bank Group (WBG) Board in May 2022 (tentative). The main objective of the proposed project is to strengthen linkages between universities in participating countries and regional agricultural sector needs through strengthening (i) agri-food related education and training enhanced with trans-disciplinary approaches and applied research; (ii) university linkages to the regional agricultural sector – its priorities, needs and stakeholders; and (iii) university partnership with private and public entities related to agri-food both within and outside the region.

The ACE II AF is a result of broad consultations with the governments of Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique; and IUCEA and RUFORUM. Six key regional gap areas have been identified and prioritized for this Project: (i) agribusiness and entrepreneurship; (ii) agri-food systems and nutrition; (iii) agricultural policy analysis; (iv) agricultural risk management and climate change; (v) rural innovations and agricultural extension; and (vi) statistical analysis, forecast and data management. The Project will support the governments of the three participating countries to collectively address challenges in the aforementioned key gap areas by (a) selecting African Centers of Excellence (ACE) through a competitive and transparent process from existing higher education institutions which have certain capacity for research and training in agriculture; (b) strengthening selected universities through professionalizing leadership and management, streamlining administration and capacitating faculty to produce excellent training and applied research which can meet the needs of highly-skilled personnel and knowledge transfer for the agri-food sector; (c) building networks among these institutions to promote regional collaboration, foster partnerships with other institutions including industries for  training and applied research to produce innovative solutions for real development impact; and (d) developing a culture of results-orientation and accountability in institutional management through a performance-based financing mechanism. As a regional project, ACE II AF will be governed by its Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and facilitated by its Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU).

 

The submitted proposals will be evaluated by an Independent Evaluation Committee and the RSC will make the final selection decision. Interested institutions should meet all the following eligibility criteria: (i) be from the participating countries; (ii) offer PhD program(s) or demonstrate readiness to offer a PhD program; and (iii) have programs in at least two disciplinary areas related to one of the regional gap areas.

Proposals are expected to encompass the following elements: Enhancing capacity to deliver regional high quality training in agriculture to address challenge(s) in at least two key gap areas; a) enhancing capacity in addressing emerging challenges such as COVID-19 b) enhancing capacity to deliver applied research to address the challenge(s); c) the strength of the partnership (national and international) and capacity to build networks and offer capacity development for TVET and other Higher Education Institutions; d) building and strengthening national, regional and inter-regional academic collaboration to raise the quality of higher agriculture education and training; e) partnerships with relevant agro-based institutions that deal with processing,  storage and distribution of agricultural produce f) building and using industry/sector partnerships to enhance the impact of the project on development, and increase the relevance of these centers of education and research; g) enhancing governance and management of the ACE and the participating universities to improve monitoring and evaluation; and h) demonstrated evidence of the applicant university engagement as well as its willingness to take a leadership role in agriculture transformation in the target country.

Higher education institutions from the Republics of Malawi, Mozambique and Ghana interested to participate in the program are requested to submit their Expression of Interest through https://bit.ly/ACEIIExpression not later than 31st January 2022. The development of final proposals will be undertaken with support from RUFORUM and IUCEA.  The governments in collaboration with the World Bank, may offer additional technical support to institutions to develop strong proposals.

The submitted proposals will be competitively evaluated by an Independent Evaluation Committee. However, the Regional Steering Committee will make the final selection decision for successful proposals.

For further information contact the Dr. Jonathan Stephen Mbwambo, email: jmbwambo@iucea.org or Prof. Majaliwa Mwanjalolo, email: m.majaliwa@ruforum.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

For more information on CEA-EMIG visit their website here  

Follow CEA Impact Mining Environment on Facebook 

WACCI Holds its Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

WACCI Holds its Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

Day One of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

Day One of the WACCI Annual Review and Strategic Planning Workshop

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

About WACCI

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

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

Facebook: West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement 

Twitter: @wacci_gh 

LinkedIn: West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement  

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

 

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

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/).

STEE Produces Hand washing Equipment to Prevent COVID-19 Spread in the Gambia

Institutions under the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) are contributing in diverse ways towards management of the COVID 19 pandemic. These contributions are in the form of production of personal protection equipment, sanitizers, hand washing equipment as well as scientific and transformative research. The Centre for Science, Technology and Engineering for Entrepreneurship (STEE) hosted by the Gambian Technical Institute Gambia has invested in the production of hand washing equipment for various institutions in the Gambia.
The equipment is named “Sawer” which in Wolof dialect means “Your Health.” An indication that hand washing is key to staying safe and healthy during these unsafe times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial production of “Sawer” commenced with about 100 hand washing equipment to serve various institutions such as the Offices of the President and First Lady, the Ministries of Water Resources, Petroleum, Basic Secondary and Higher Education, among other notable institutions.
Sawer is a contact free mechanical equipment with unique features, easy to use and suitable for all ages. It is manufactured from quality and durable raw materials.

The Africa Centre of Excellence for Science, Technology and Engineering for Entrepreneurship (STEE) is one of the 53 academic centres in West Africa. The centre aims at improving Science and Engineering education within the sub region.

Contact: smkandawire@aau.org | Association of African Universities | P. O. Box AN 5744,
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