Accra, Nov. 8, GNA – The Association of African Universities (AAU), having recently been appointed the Coordinator of African Union’s Higher Education Cluster, will continue to fully support initiatives aimed at pushing forward Africa’s higher education agenda.
Professor Etienne Ehouan Ehile, the Secretary General of AAU, said the World Bank African Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project was one such key initiative which was also in line with the African Union Agenda 2063 on the "the Africa we want", in terms of its vision of providing the requisite human resources to handle all development issues.
It would be recalled that the World Bank in collaboration with West and Central African countries launched the ACEs Project in 2014 to promote regional specialisation among participating universities in areas that address specific common regional development challenges.
Speaking at the opening of the Joint ACE I and ACE II Project Workshop (Eighth ACE I and Third ACE II Project Workshop) in Accra, Prof Ehile expressed the gratitude of the AAU and the World Bank to the Government of Ghana for its continuous support to the African Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project, and for hosting the ACE Project Workshop for the second time.
In addition to the staff of AAU and the World Bank, the three-day workshop brought together participants from the ministries of higher education of various countries in Africa, as well as university and faculty members of both ACE I and ACE II.
The workshop, which is the first joint regional ACE workshop, would provide the much needed platform for learning and knowledge sharing among the two ACEs.
It would present an opportunity for the provision of guidance on improving university-industry linkages and collaboration; and also help ACEs to review progress made towards results verification and planning of next disbursement.
Participating countries in the Accra meeting include Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Benin, Senegal, The Gambia and Ghana.
The rest are Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia
Prof Ehile said though substantial progress had been made since our last meeting in Lagos, in the areas of supervisory missions, national review meetings, monitoring and evaluation, and verification of results, there still remains a lot more to be done on the side of all stakeholders to ensure the full realization of the ACE project’s goal.
“I seize this opportunity to again congratulate the many Centers which have taken the lead and which have shown strong performance, and call on other ACEs to strive hard to meet the established disbursement linked indicators,” Prof Ehile said.
“We are further hopeful, that the site visit to the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) and the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), both situated at the University of Ghana, will add value and enrich the learning process for both ACE I and ACE II officers, the General Secretary said.
Prof Ehile announced that the "Quality Assurance Training Workshop on Innovative and Quality Research Methods Knowledge and Skills for the 21st Century" would take place in Uganda from 12-14 December.
Mr Henry Kerali, the World Bank Country Director in Ghana, in a speech read on his behalf, commended governments and the representative ministers of the various countries for their demonstrated commitment and ownership of the African Centres of educational programme.
He said the project was quite unique in the World Bank portfolio; stating that it was paving the way to re-thinking how the World Bank could support higher education and advance research in Africa.
“It has gained high level international and local attention from key partners, industry players, and stakeholders on the African continent and beyond,” he said.
“We commend the ACE’s for the results achieved thus far, including strong progress on student enrolment, excellence and relevant applied research, a strong push for university-industry linkages, and relevance through revenue generation,” Mr Kerali said.
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Education, assured Centre Leaders and their teams that government recognises their effort and stands ready to assist them to build the legacy that would endure long after the World Bank support has ended.
“The strategy is an extremely laudable one and has the full endorsement of government,” he said.
Dr Opoku Prempeh appealed to the nation’s higher educational institutions, both public and private to start positioning themselves to develop competitive proposals that would earn them selection to the next round of call to establish ACEs Centres.