World Bank and its Partners to Assess the Regional Impact of the Centre of Excellence Projects

The Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) project is pleased to announce the launch of the Impact Evaluation for the ACE series of projects. The evaluation will assess the progress of the ACE series of projects- ACE 1, ACE 2, and ACE Impact. Co-funded by the World Bank and the AFD, the evaluation will be conducted by independent experts and commenced in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, although key analytical work will be applied to measure the impact in all participating countries.


The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) is a World Bank initiative in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support higher education institutions specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Agriculture, Health, Environment and Social Science/Applied Science and Education. It is the first World Bank regional project building the capacities of African universities to address specific common regional development challenges and meet the demand for skills required for Africa’s development through high-quality training and applied research.

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 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 2019 to further strengthen post-graduate training and applied research in existing fields and support new fields that are essential for Africa’s economic growth. Under ACE Impact, there are 53 ACEs specializing in the broad thematic areas of STEM, agriculture, health, environment, and social/applied science and education.


The Impact evaluation will therefore provide a defined pathway toward subsequent implementation of the ACE model and further guide the design of future national and regional higher education projects.  More specifically, the impact evaluation would:

  • Identify and highlight key lessons to-date from the ACE projects, discussing project design and implementation concerning quality, relevance, access, governance, and financing and how these relate to training of higher education students and research outputs.
  • Assess the impact so far at the sectoral level (STEM, Health, Agriculture, and Education fields), higher education national/institutional system level, and within local/regional communities -focusing on the four target countries; and
  • Develop overall and country-specific policy recommendations culminating from the findings, focusing on the higher education sectors at the institutional and national levels.


To commence the assessment process, interviews will be scheduled in centres hosted in the pilot countries.  The preliminary findings will be presented at the ACE Impact bi-annual regional workshop to be held in May 2023. In addition, the first draft of deliverables will be shared in June for further review and feedback by key stakeholders.

WACCI graduates its first cohort of MPhil students under the ACE Project


The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), has graduated its first cohort of MPhil students under the ACE Project. The Center on July 20 graduated nine (9) MPhil and 14 PhD students.

The first graduating cohort of 9 MPhil Seed Science and Technology students were enrolled under the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) project in August 2015. This 2-year innovative programme was developed in recognition of the dire need of the ailing seed industry in West and Central Africa.

In an interview, Professor Eric Y. Danquah, the founding Director of the Center noted that WACCI is exerting huge impact across the African sub-region and has shown in eleven years that quality plant breeding education is undoubtedly a smart development investment. The Centre continues to produce the much needed human resources who are at the forefront of agricultural transformation and plant breeding activities across sub-Saharan Africa. He stated that, these graduates have been equipped with entrepreneurial skills to enable them set-up and manage seed businesses which will ultimately transform the seed industry in the sub-region.

He also added, “WACCI is evolving into an Agriculture Innovations and Entrepreneurship institution to generate game-changing products needed for the inclusive transformation of African agriculture and urged Governments of Africa and development partners to prioritize institutions like WACCI for sustained core funding in order to transform agriculture in Africa.”

Prof. Danquah further noted that, a multipurpose building to be completed in August 2018 will provide world class research, teaching and learning facilities needed to attract strategic partners from around the world to make WACCI a preeminent global institution for world class agricultural research and training.

The West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), hosted by the University of Ghana is one of the Agriculture Centers under the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) Project. The Centre has since inception, enrolled 114 PhD students in Plant Breeding and 36 students in MPhil Seed Science and Technology. A total of 66 PhD and 9 MPhil students would have graduated from the WACCI programme. Also, as the pre-eminent Centre for plant breeding education in Africa, WACCI has over 60 improved varieties of staples such as maize, sweetpotato, rice, cassava, groundnut, cowpea and taro with the potential of increasing Africa’s food production have been released by our graduates in their respective home countries.

Biodiversity Celebrated at CEA- CCBAD

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

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

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

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







Africa Higher Education Fair 2018

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

Objectives of the Fair

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

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

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

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

OAU- ICT Driven Knowledge Park calls for University- Industry linkage in ICT


The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) – ICT Driven Knowledge Park has called on the private sector to partner with the University and benefit from its knowledge and skills in technology and innovations. OAU in collaboration with the Nigeria Computer Society organized a one- day university-industry linkage forum themed ‘Rethinking Academia-Industry Engagement’ at the Sheraton Hotel Lagos.

OAU is one of the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence funded by the World Bank to strengthen the capacities of Universities to deliver high quality training to meet the demand for skills required for Africa’s development.

Speaking at the forum, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, the Pro- Chancellor and Chairman of the University Council, called on industry stakeholders to partner with the institution and benefit from its ICT potentials. He stated, “We need to build a stronger interface between academia and the industry. Industry participation and synergy on this project will be of immense benefit to the student community, the academia and the industry.”

He also noted that OAU was ready to create the platform for the University and industry to jointly identify challenges facing the country and design the needed solutions, and also provide jobs and wealth creation in the process.  Dr. Ogunbiyi also stated that the park is being positioned as a recognized model ICT Park and hub in the sub- region which links academia and industry to proffer solutions to local problems.

He added, “The intent here is that such solutions will be innovative and commercialized. It is our desire therefore that companies can take up structures or spaces in the park, creating proximity to the university’s intellectual infrastructure of our faculty and the reservoir of knowledge resident within our active student population.”

The co-leader of the Centre who also doubles as the President of the Nigeria Computer Society, Professor G.A Aderoumu speaking at the event stated that, the World Bank earmarked eight million USD for the setting up of the park, which is near completion and would be fully commissioned in May.

Also present at this event was the OAU Vice Chancellor. Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, who added that, the university is ready to work with all stakeholders in bridging the gap between academia and industry and to also sustain its relevance as a leading university in research and innovation.



OAK-Park Partners with Fisher College of Science and Mathematics


The Obafemi Awolowo University in ICT- Driven Knowledge Park (OAK-Park) has partnered with Jeff & Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics, Towson University. The partnership is to promote academic exchanges with regard to research publications, education and faculty training. This agreement falls in line with the African Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project’s objectives to promote collaborations between the Centres and other Institutions. Read more


Call for Applications

The Africa Center of Excellence in Internet of Things (ACEIoT) at the University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology, invites qualified applicants to the following programs:

  1. PhD in IoT with Specialisation in Wireless Intelligent Sensor Networking
  2. PhD in IoT with Specialisation in Embedded Computing Systems

There are full and partial scholarship opportunities. Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. The deadline is March 16, 2018.

For more info visit < Applications now open for PhD Studies- Deadline extended up to March 16, 2018>

Website < 

Fifth ACE Supervision Missions ready to be launched


In line with the ACE project’s monitoring and evaluation strategy, Supervision Teams consisting of experts in the thematic disciplines of Agriculture, Health and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) will be embarking on the 5th supervision missions to 11 ACEs in West and Central Africa between 12th March and 17th April 2018. The Centres to be visited are The Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER); Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA); Pan African Materials Institute (PAMI); Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre Kumasi (RWESCK); Centre for Excellence in Reproductive Health and Innovation (CERHI); Ecole Nationale Superieure de Statistique et d’economie Appliquee (ENSEA);  Centre d’Excellence Africain Mines et Environnement Minier (CEA-MEM); ACE in Mathematics, Informatics, and ICT (CEA-MITIC);  ACE in Poultry Sciences (CERSA);  ACE for Phytomedicine Research and Development (ACEPRD); and ACE in Maternal and Child Health (CEA-SAMEF).

Representatives from the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the World Bank will also be part of the supervision mission.


The purpose of the mission is to assess the extent to which implementation is consistent with the agreed timelines and outcomes set out in the Project Appraisal Document (PAD). It is also to track progress, achievements and impacts made by each ACE.  The mission further presents the opportunity for experts to provide technical advice on addressing challenges facing the Centres in project execution.


The Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project emphasizes results-oriented management and supervision based on tracking results and how these feed into achievement of the Project’s goals. In line with this, frequent monitoring and evaluation is required to ensure the Centres implement activities according to their approved Implementation Plans and Annual Work Plans. Since its inception in 2014, four supervision missions have been undertaken by teams of experts and representatives of World Bank and AAU to various ACEs to monitor progress and make recommendations towards attainment of the Project’s goals. Logistical arrangements for the Fifth Supervision Mission are at an advanced stage. Click here to see timetable.

ACE for Development Impact – Stakeholders meet to discuss strengthening and scaling up the Project

Stakeholders of the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) Project in West and Central Africa, including Ministers of various countries in the region, have met to deliberate on ways to strengthen the development impact of the ACE project.  Discussions on scaling up the activities of high performing centers and increasing the number of participating countries were also key on the agenda.

Held in Dakar, Senegal on January 16-17, 2018, the meeting was attended   by sector ministers or their representatives, experts, and other stakeholders from Burkina Faso, Guinea, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin Republic, Ghana, Djibouti, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Gabon, Mauritius, Gambia, Senegal, Togo, China, Kenya, USA and Spain. Representatives from the World Bank, ECOWAS and the Association of African Universities (AAU), were also in attendance.

Presentations made at the meeting outlined the performances and challenges of the initial phase of the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project (ACE I), as well as lessons learnt in project implementation, which should feed into the ACE for Development Impact (ACE III) Project. It was indicated that ACE I had proven productive with regard to enrollment, partnerships, graduate Internships, National and International Accreditations, and external funding. Over 12, 000 students have for instance, been enrolled in post graduate programmes while 11 programmes have attained international accreditation with several others gaining national accreditation, since the inception of the ACE 1 project.   Some Centers have also generated considerable external funding.  One such example is the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP, Ghana),  which has been able to generate US$ 10 million from external sources.

Participants of the Dakar meeting were also briefed on the selection process, sector prioritization and status of the ACE for Impact Development (ACE III) Project.

As the Regional Facilitating Unit for the ACE III Project, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) represented by Professor Hamidou Boly, Commissioner for Education, Science and Culture, explained the role of the Commission in promoting Higher Education policies within the region. The Commissioner noted that, ACE III Project activities would be implemented through one of the Commission’s Higher Education specialized agencies.

The Association of African Universities (AAU) assured the meeting of its constant support to the project as well as its willingness to work with ECOWAS through the  provision of regional technical services such as Monitoring and Evaluation, Verification, Organization of Workshops and related Logistics.

The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) was launched in April, 2014 and was introduced by the World Bank in collaboration with the governments of selected countries in Africa. It is aimed at enhancing specialization in addressing common regional development challenges through high quality training and applied research. ACE I has 22 centers in 8 countries (from West and Central Africa), while ACE II has 24 centers in 8 Countries (from East and Southern Africa).

AAU is the Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) for ACE I while the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) manages ACE II.

Contact: | Association of African Universities | P. O. Box AN 5744,
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