Africa Centres of Excellence tasked to combat coronavirus

Temitope Mustapha, Abuja

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A health worker checks the temperature of a traveller in coronavirus screening at Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana

Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE), in Nigeria have been tasked to combat and come up with research that can contain the coronavirus, COVID-19.

The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, gave the challenge in Abuja during an assessment of ACE 1 and a workshop on ACE impact project jointly organised by the Association of African Universities and the World Bank.

Prof. Rasheed expressed confidence that the 53 Africa Centres of Excellence are capable of unravelling the problem of coronavirus facing the world.

Prof. Rasheed mentioned that an ACE Centre in one of the Nigerian University, Redeemers University, spearheaded the containment of the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 and subsequently developed a 10-minute testing kit for both the Ebola and Lassa Fever viruses.

According to Prof. Rasheed, “another Nigerian ACE in University of Jos also developed the anti-snake venom vaccine known as COVIP-Plus”.

He said that the ACE1 Project in Nigeria had recorded a number of successes in the last five years.

Prof. Rasheesd called on stakeholders to consolidate on the gains of ACE1 in the Impact Project Workshop by improving the quality, quantity and development impact of postgraduate education.

The NUC Executive Secretary noted that by March when ACE1 would close, the commission would set up a team to document all the achievements of ACE1 and make recommendations to government on sustaining the gains of the project.

The ACE projects in Africa are aimed at addressing common regional development challenges, and strengthen their capacities to deliver high quality training and applied research.

The objective of the project was also to meet the labour market demands for skills within specific areas where there are skill gaps that affect development, economic growth and poverty reduction.

Prof. Rasheed commended the World Bank and the Association of African Universities (AAU) for the support for Higher Education in Africa.

The Secretary General of the Association of African Universities, Prof Etienne Ehile, said the Centres have recorded success in the area of enrollment of national and regional students at the Masters and PhD levels.

“Great number of students are participating, they have also recorded success in internships, as well as Masters and PhD graduate output, student participation in the short courses, and publications in international journals,” Ehile said.

Over 500 academics participated in the workshop and assessment exercise of the Africa Centres of Excellence hosted by the Nigerian government.

 

Chidi Nwoke.