Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind in higher education and research output. This is related to the poor quality of training in universities and the lack of a strong pipeline of secondary education students. Strengthening the higher education and research outputs, especially in the area of science, technology, agriculture, health and related fields, has higher development impact. The lack of a critical mass of scientifically- technically trained people limits the assimilation, diffusion and adaptation of new technologies by firms and by workers and makes it more difficult to address development challenges such as climate change.
To address this challenge, some important regional initiatives have been launched by the World Bank in the Africa region – the Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) regional projects (West and Central Africa: ACE 1 and ACE Impact, East Africa: ACE 2) and the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET). The ACE is a World Bank-financed project to invest in competitively selected research centers at African universities to develop its research capability and high-quality masters and PhD programs. 46 centers from 17 countries have been supported to date. PASET is a partnership initiative launched by the African governments facilitated by the World Bank, focusing on building scientific and technical skills in higher education and technical education, together with the private sector and other donors. It has a special focus on building partnerships and learning from countries in Asia and Latin America. Its flagship initiative is the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), a pan-African science fund, to provide PhD scholarship, research and innovation grant. The RSIF also aims to build a capacity in selected RSIF host universities in SSA for doctoral programs and applied research, innovation in applied science, technology and innovation field.
Partnership with Japan
Both ACE and PASET work as regional platforms and embrace partnership with foreign universities and corporations to improve the quality of teaching, research, and innovation. Japan is one of the key partners and multiple African universities already signed the MoUs with Japanese universities and corporation. As a continuum of highly successful 1st Africa-Japan Higher Education Partnership Workshop in Japan held in October 2018 along with the TICAD VII, the World Bank in collaboration with the government of Japan will organize multiple events to showcase the results of the partnership between African universities and Japanese universities/industry and provide further opportunities for collaboration.