The first edition of the African Higher Education Fair, held on the campus of the International Institute of Water and Environment Engineering 2IE in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso, brought together 22 African Centers of Excellence from nine West African countries. These centers came to present their training and research programs to students and professionals planning further university studies. Each of the 22 centers of excellence is regionally unique. They seek to produce a critical mass of high-level specialists at the Masters and PhD levels as well as providing short term professional training to professionals seeking to improve their skills. The programs are focused on producing the skills needed to address regional development challenges in areas such as water, agriculture, health, technology, engineering and mathematics. The African Centers of Excellence initiative is a flagship program supported by the World Bank that is providing an innovative regional response to make higher education more relevant to Africa’s development.