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

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

Celebrating Academic Excellence in Africa

PRESS RELEASE: Ouagadougou Celebrates Academic Excellence in Africa

22 Centers of Excellence presented their education and applied research programs and innovations to the public

Ouagadougou, 7 May 2018. The very first “Higher Education Student Fair” of the African Centers of Excellence (ACEs) was held today on the campus of the Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. All the 22 ACEs financed by the World Bank and hosted by universities in 9 West and Central African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) attended the event.

This is a great day for Africa, as well as all the ACEs represented here to celebrate academic excellence. The training and research programs presented to the public today demonstrates that we are capable of developing the advanced skills Africa needs to accelerate its development“, said Professor Etienne Ehilé, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities (AAU), the institution responsible for monitoring the implementation of the ACEs and co-organizer of the event.

The research programs presented cover the following areas: (i) genomics and infectious diseases; (ii) water, energy and environment; (iii) agricultural development and environmental sustainability; (iv) cell biology of infectious pathogens; (v) neglected tropical diseases and forensic biotechnology; (vi) crop improvement; (vii) phytomedicine and development; (viii) reproductive health and innovation; (ix) mathematical sciences and applications; (x) oilfield chemicals; (xi) water and sanitation; (xii) poultry sciences; (xiii) information and communications technology; (xiv) maternal and child health; (xv) dryland agriculture; (xvi) food technology; (xvii) statistics; (xviii) climate change; (xix) mining; and (xx) materials science and engineering.

Each of the 22 ACEs is regionally unique. They aim to support the emergence of regional poles of excellence within higher education and applied research. The centers seek to produce a critical mass of high-level specialists at the Masters and PhD levels as well as providing short term professional training to professionals seeking to improve their skills. These programs are focused on producing the skills needed to address regional development challenges in areas such as water, agriculture, health, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Our programs meet the international standards and our students come from all over Africa. At the end of their training, they are competitive, innovative and immediately access the job market, thus reflecting our slogan of “One diploma, one job”, said Professor Harouna Karambiri, hydro-climatologist and Coordinator of CEA-2iE.

In opening the Fair, Mr. Cheick Fantamady Kanté, World Bank Country Manager for Burkina Faso highlighted the innovative aspect of the ACEs: “The African Centers of Excellence project that we support is one of the most innovative projects aimed at providing Africa with the technical know-how necessary to meet its many development challenges”.

I am happy to be here and expect to interact with students and other visitors on the key achievements of our center. Our team is happy to present to the public our high-ranking Master’s and PhD programs which are contemporary, comprehensive and up to date on reproductive health”, said Dr. Mrs. O.E. Obarisiagbon, PhD student at the Center of Excellence on Reproductive Health Innovation, at University of Benin, Nigeria.

Several actors of the academia (including students), the private sector, industry, civil society, and others visited the Fair to discover the research areas covered by the ACEs and to explore opportunities for effective partnerships: “I heard about the centers of excellence and came to find out what programs are available to help me make the best choice for my Master’s studies,” says Hassane Koumare, a third-year undergraduate physics student from Mali who visited the Fair.

For Mr. Andreas Blom, Lead Economist and Task Team Leader for the ACE project at the World Bank, the ACEs are achieving good results and are being successful in attracting more students from the region. He commends its ownership by all stakeholders and indicates the next steps: “Currently, the ACEs have developed more than 15 programs that are accredited and meet international standards. In addition, the ACEs have developed 35 new programs that have already attracted about 6,000 students in Master’s and 1,600 PhD students; of these, 3,000 are regional students”. We are encouraged by the strong ownership of the ACEs at institutional, national and regional levels and we are taking steps to move to the next level to support the creation of new centers of excellence and provide additional financing to scale up on some of the existing ones that are already glowing at regional and international level”.

The African Centers of Excellence initiative is a flagship program supported by the World Bank that is providing an innovative regional response to make higher education more relevant to Africa’s development. With a total investment of $165 million, the project offers an optimal way to build regional specialization, concentrate limited top-level faculty, generate spillovers and meet private sector demand for technical skills.

You can download the following:

  1. Press Release in French – ACE Higher Education Fair
  2. Address by the AAU Secretary General in French


For more information, please contact:

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