The fifth Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs) Project Workshop has been held at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra with over 200 participants from the 22 ACEs, the World Bank, the AAU and other partners from within and outside of Africa.
Minister for Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang delivering the keynote address
The workshop was opened by the Minister for Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang on behalf of the President of the Republic of Ghana, H. E. John Dramai Mahama. In her keynote address, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang lauded the three ACE projects in Ghana for achieving the set targets and to some extent exceeding them. She said that the projects have strong regional participation in terms of enrolment and to foster participation from francophone countries, each of the centres has partnered with Language Centres of the host universities to incorporate language immersion programmes.
Mr. Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director to Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, in a speech read on his behalf at the workshop said the project is a key path to transform Africa and improve education and health services.
Mr. Andreas Bloom, World Bank Senior Education Economist and ACE Task Team Leader also added that the Project will build capacity to solve Africa’s development problems through science and technology.
Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, Vice-Chancellor, speaking on a panel discussion
The University of Ghana was represented by delegations from the two ACEs. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, speaking on a panel discussion at the workshop on, “Institutional Support for the ACEs”, submitted that the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) and West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) projects are commendable. While pledging the University’s support for the Centres to grow, henoted that it was important for the ACEs to operate within the overall structure of the University for proper oversight.
The Director of WACCI, Prof. Eric Danquah, who chaired the Local Organising Committee of the workshop was commended by Mr. Andreas Blom, a World Bank Senior Education Economist and leader of the ACE Task team, for the organization of the 8th PSC Meeting and 5th ACE Workshop which he described as near perfect and the best ever in the history of the ACEs project.
At the closing session of the three day workshop, Mr. Andreas Blom urged the Vice-Chancellors of the participating universities to comply with the Bank’s directives on the project funds disbursements, adding that unnecessary delays in the disbursement of the project funds hindered progress. He cautioned staff of the various ACE project Centres to guide against corruption and pursue teamwork all the time to ensure success of the project.
The World Bank “Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) Project” was launched in 2014 to strengthen institutions to deliver regional, demanded, quality training and applied research in partnerships with regional and international academic institutions and in partnership with relevant employers and industry. The ACE project builds on the premise that a regional approach to higher education in Africa offers the best way to build and sustain excellence in higher education in African economies. The objective of the project is to promote regional specialisation among participating universities in areas that address specific and common regional development challenges, such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health and agriculture. The project delivers high quality training and applied research that meet the skills demand of the regional labour market. The World Bank has made available 150 million dollars for the implementation of the project, with each selected Centre entitled to a maximum of eight million dollars.
Representatives of the UG ACE Centres in a pose with the Vice-Chancellor
The ACE Centres in Ghana are the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) and the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) all at the University of Ghana and the Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
WACCI was declared the lead agricultural ACE with positive lessons for other ACEs. This was the outcome of peer evaluation by participants following presentations on areas of excellence by Centre Leaders of the six Agricultural ACEs at a break-out session. Speaking at the end of the breakout session, Dr. Carl Larsen of the World Bank commended WACCI for being the torchlight lighting the way for the other Centres to follow. He encouraged the other Centres to learn from the WACCI success story.