The World Bank has announced its approval of 131 million US Dollars to increase its support for higher education and economic transformation, for the Second Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact Project in Benin, The Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.
The project came through the International Development Association (IDA) to scale up its support of each countries’ goal to deliver high quality education, training and applied research in the key priority fields including science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health and agriculture.
“The Second Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact Project (Second ACE Impact) will help establish 14 new ACEs and strengthen the activities of 9 well-performing existing ones to further improve postgraduate education (PhD, masters and professional short courses) and applied collaborative research that are essential to provide Africa with the skills needed to address regional development challenges. The specific sectors supported include sustainable power and energy, sustainable cities in Africa, neglected tropical diseases, maternal health, transport, mining and environment, applied informatics and communication, crop science, dryland agriculture, water and sanitation,” the official statement from the World Bank stated.
The project will also support 3 emerging centers (2 in Niger and 1 in The Gambia) to strengthen, through partnerships with existing ACEs and other partners, both their undergraduate and master’s level programs in mining, mathematics, science, technology and engineering.
“The Africa Centers of Excellence is a flagship program that is successfully supporting African universities to deliver quality training and regional specialization in order to fulfill labor market demands. These high-level skills are essential for increasing productivity, promoting economic transformation and creating jobs for the continent,” says Ms. Deborah Wetzel, World Bank Director of Regional Integration for Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa.
According to World Bank, with the new project, it is increasing its total financing for the Africa Centers for Excellence (ACEs) program to $587 million. Under the program, 47 universities in 20 African countries are implementing more than 70 ACEs where thousands of students are enrolled in postgraduate programs. Thirty-four of these programs are certified to meet international quality standards, thus showing African higher education can meet global standards.
The new project is said to be well aligned with Africa’s regional strategies as well as with the national development strategies across beneficiary countries. It also contributes to the World Bank Group’s twin goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity and is part of the World Bank Group’s Africa Regional Integration Strategy. It was designed following the implementation of projects under the previous phases that have been successful in training and keeping the best African talents in the continent as well as attracting the best African professors from the diaspora and ensuring the dissemination of knowledge throughout the sub-region.