The World Bank has declared its intention to spend at least $80m (N13.6bn) on 10 Africa Center of Excellence (ACE), in Nigeria.
World Bank Lead Economist Africa Education, Andreas Blom, who stated this Monday, at a meeting of World Bank with 10 ACE, in Abuja, said the World Bank would build African capacity to solve Africa problems.
The 10 universities that were selected in Nigeria included, Redeemer University Mowe, Ogun state, University of Ibadan, Ibadan (Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomic of Infectious Diseases, ACGID), African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, Pan African Material Institute, PAMI), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (Centre for Agricutural Development and Sustainable Environment),.
Others are Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (Center of Excellence on Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology), University of Jos (Phytomemedicine Research and Development, ACEPRD), University of Benin (Centre for Excellence in Reproductive Health and Innovation), and University of Port-Harcourt (ACE Center for oil field Chemicals).
Due to the number of excellent proposals from Nigeria, three more universities were added. They were, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (knowledge Park: A model for National Science Technology and Knowledge Park Initiative) STEM, Bayero University, Kano (African Centre of Excellence in Dryland Agriculture and Benue State University, Makurdi (Centre for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) – Agriculture.
Blom said it was rather unfortunate that none of the African University is one of the first 500 universities in the world but expressed the hope that the story would soon change.
He identified poverty as a major challenge in relation to food wastage, storage and health related challenges and expressed the hoped that by the time ACE is able to engage the continent, at least 25 universities in the continent would make the first 500 ranking in the world universities.
He stressed the importance of working together with World Bank through commitment and hardship. “For Nigeria to have 10 out of 18 Centres of ACEs, it shows its clear leadership in the continent” he said.
The Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie, in his address said ACE project was initiated in 2013 by the governments of Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, with support from World Bank.
He said the project is meant to build capacity in competitively selected institutions to produce in-demand highly and applied research, and secondly to facilitate rapid development within the African sub-region through the strengthening of Centres of Excellence by way of collaborations and partnering in the sharing of talents, skilled labour and higher education services.
“Under the ACE programme, grants of up to $8 million would be awarded to winning proposals, from various institutions across Africa consisting of a lead institution and collaborating partners. The primary focus would be on science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Health Sciences and Agricultural Sciences.
A total of 55 proposals were received, all of which were carefully evaluated by a team of experts assembled by NUC”. Okojie said.