By Felix Khanoba
No fewer than 53 universities from 12 West African countries are to converge in Abuja to strengthen the implementation and impact of the World Bank-sponsored African Centres of Excellence (ACE) located in institutions in the region.
A statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by Mrs. Adebukola Olatunji of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Senior World Bank External Officer, Mr Mansir Nasir and Association of African Universities’, Millicent Afriyie Kyei, said the universities would meet in Abuja to access the massive impact of ACEs at a 4-day biennial workshop from 25th-28th February 2020.
The event which would be attended by representatives from the ACEs, World Bank, the French Development Agency, the Association of African Universities, (AAU) and NUC officials will afford the institutions the opportunity to exchange information on their respective programmes, build networks and forge partnerships to ensure the successful implementation of the project.
The statement read: “Based on the initial successes, the World Bank and the French Development Agency in collaboration with 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.
“Currently, there are 43 ACE, 25 new ones and 18 from ACE I, five emerging centers, onr top up centre in Social Risk Management and five 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.”
The AUTHORITY reports that ACE, a World Bank initiative was first launched in 2014 with 22 Centres in nine West and Central African countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, while 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.
The ACE project is aimed at promoting 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.