53 African universities to assess centres of excellence

Temitope Mustapha, Abuja


African Centres of Excellence (ACE), from 53 universities representing 12 West African countries are set to converge in Abuja to look at the impact of the project on the continent.

A joint statement signed by the National Universities Commission (NUC), World Bank, and the Association of African Universities (AAU), indicates that the 4-day biennial workshop will hold from 25th to 28th of February 2020.

The event which aims to strengthen the implementation of ACE impact across African countries, would also be attended by representatives from the ACE centres and the French Development Agency (AFD).

This gathering 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.

“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,” the statement said.

“Currently, there are 43 ACE, 25 new ones and 18 from ACE I, 5 emerging centers, 1 top up center in Social Risk Management and 5 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 statement added.

African Centre of Excellence Projects, a World Bank initiative was first launched in 2014 with 22 Centres in 9 West and Central African countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

However, the second phase, ACE II, was launched in East and Southern Africa with 24 centres across Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The ACE project is aimed at promoting regional specialisation 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.

It is the first World Bank project aimed at the capacity building of higher education institutions in Africa, established in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support specialisation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, Agriculture, and Health.


Chidi Nwoke