Advancing Post-Graduate Education in Africa Through Regional Specialization and Collaboration in Agriculture, Health, Environment, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
The Africa Centers of Excellence project (ACEs) is the first large scale regional program funded by the World Bank in the higher education sector in Africa. It addresses higher-level skills development needs and innovative research requirements for the continent’s priority development sectors in five main areas: science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); agriculture; health; environment; applied social science and education. Since its start in 2014, the program has supported over 80 centers in more than 50 universities across 20 countries across the continent. Under the program, thousands of students –more than one third of whom are female-- are enrolled in postgraduate programs geared towards international standards in delivering quality training and regional specializations that are helping to fulfill labor market demands on the continent. The ACEs are undertaking high impact research that are addressing some of the region’s most pressing development challenges such as food insecurity, climate change and infectious diseases.
In 2019, in order to increase the impact of existing ACEs and extend the program to more centers, the World Bank, together with the French Development Agency, launched the third phase of the program: the “ACE for Development Impact project, ACE-Impact”. A total of 53 centers in 35 universities across 11 countries --Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo—participate in the ACE-Impact project to improve and accelerate the quality, quantity and development impact of postgraduate education. These ACEs have developed strong partnerships with universities and industries locally, regionally and all over the world, helping to generate support for student’s research programs, offering internships, and facilitating their access to the job market. The ACEs are playing a key role in increasing the number of sciences graduates needed to support Africa’s fast-growing economy.
About the event
In collaboration with the French Development Agency, AFD (co-financier of ACE-Impact), the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, IRD (facilitating ACEs’ regional networks), and the Association of African Universities, AAU (ACE-Impact Regional Facilitation Unit), the World Bank is organizing a two-day high-level event under the theme: “The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence: A Pathway towards Sustainable Development”. The event took place at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 17 and 18, 2022, and brought together the ACEs and the most influential decision makers in the development space to discuss the centers’ innovations and best practices at both national and regional levels, as well as their challenges and opportunities. Following the high-level event, the ACEs travelled on October 20 and 21, 2022 to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University for peer-learning and partnership opportunities.
The event was co-funded by the World Bank, the AFD and the World Bank China Partnership Facility (CWPF).
Main objective. Disseminate the impact of the ACEs to date in terms of their contributions, innovations, and best practices in addressing key regional development challenges and global crises that relate to public health, climate change, energy, agriculture and food security, digital transformation, and others.
- Showcase the ACEs as a critical model for producing and increasing the number and quality of post-graduates and researchers needed to overcome Africa’s critical development challenges and support its growing economy.
- Showcase regional collaboration, highlighting networking and knowledge exchange on research initiatives and promote the ACEs as a model for replication on the continent.
- Identify opportunities for accelerating the development of quality higher education, research and innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the STEM fields, while enhancing regional integration and global partnerships.
- Students and Center Directors from ACEs across Africa
- Senior officials from the World Bank Group and co-organizers: French Development Agency (AFD); French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD); Association of African Universities (AAU)
- Country Officials: African Finance Ministers / Ambassadors
- Representatives of regional, international organizations, and foundations
- Academic and Industry Partners: IBM; Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI); Harvard University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and others
All interested parties (policy makers, researchers, students, industrialists, private sector, etc.) who want to virtually connect can register to attend relevant activities of their choice on the Agenda.