By Felix Khanoba
No fewer than 2,000 scholars have graduated with Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees from the various programmes at the African Centres of Excellence (ACEs) Project, a cutting-edge research centre, located in select universities in the West and Central African sub-regions.
The ACEs, which 10 out of 22 of the centres under phase one of the project are located in Nigerian universities, came into force in 2014 under the sponsorship of the World Bank.
Speaking during the opening of a four-day biennial workshop of the project in Abuja on Tuesday, that attracted representatives of ACEs from several countries, World Bank’s Education Specialist, Ekual Bentil, said the Bank has so far expended 580 million dollars on all the phases of ACEs programme.
While saying the ACEs project, which was put in place to address common regional developmental challenges and strengthen capacities to deliver high quality training and applied research has also churned out over 9,000 masters degree holders, Bentil expressed delight that some of the research outcomes are already contributing positively in the society.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Rasheed Abubakar, said the ACEs in Nigerian universities have not only attracted foreign students but have also secured international accreditation for all the programmes.
Rasheed, who said hundreds of Nigerians have graduated from the PhD programmes run in the centres, stated that over 1,000 others have bagged masters degrees from the ACEs and another thousand on the verge of rounding off the programme.
The NUC boss listed the discovery of anti-snake venom by the Centre in University of Jos and the containment of Ebola in 2014 through the adoption of a research developed by the ACE in Redeemer University, Ede, as some of the notable achievements so far recorded.
Declaring the workshop open, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the Federal Government was proud to be one of the countries that collaborated with the World Bank to launch the project.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Sonny Echono, the minister expressed satisfaction with the uncommon feat recorded by ACEs in meeting the set objectives even as he challenged the project to help tackle Coronavirus currently ravaging several countries in the world.
His words: “Out of the numerous achievements of ACE phase one, permit me to point out the outstanding contribution of one of our Centres in Nigeria, the Africa Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) at the Redeemer’s University, Ede, which played a major role in the containment of the spread of the Ebola Virus in Nigeria in 2014.
“I am drawing attention to this case because we are again confronted with another killer virus, the Coronavirus and I am confident that ACEGID is equal to the task and would rise up to the occasion.
“That is what the ACE Project is all about, addressing common regional challenges and strengthening institutional capacities to deliver high quality training and applied research.”
The AUTHORITY reports that there are currently 43 ACEs located in Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Djibouti, Gambia and Togo, and they are run in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support specialisation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Health.