In collaboration with the Governments of Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the World Bank Group (WBG) and Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) are jointly launching a Call for Proposals for Africa Centers of Excellence (ACEs) for Eastern and Southern Africa. This is part of the preparation for a proposed investment project expecting to be reviewed by the WBG Board in the spring of 2016 – Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project (ACE II). The main objective of this proposed project is to establish and strengthen specialization and collaboration among a network of higher education institutions in the Eastern and Southern Africa region to deliver relevant and quality education and applied research to address key development challenges facing the region. The WBG Board approved a similar project for Western and Central Africa (ACE I) in 2014. Under ACE I, nineteen ACEs were selected from seven participating countries in the region and their implementation is underway.
The ACE II Project has had broad consultations in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. The key regional development priorities identified for this Project are in four cluster areas: (i) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); (ii) Agriculture; (iii) Health; and (iv) Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and Quality of Education, and Applied Statistics. The Project will support the governments of the ten participating countries to collectively address challenges in these key development priority areas with interventions of: (a) selecting African Centers of Excellence (ACE) through a competitive and transparent process from existing higher education institutions which have certain capacity in specialized areas with great potential to help address those defined challenges; (b) strengthening these specialized ACEs and enabling them to produce excellent training and applied research which can meet the needs of highly-skilled personnel and knowledge transfer in those challenge areas; (c) building networks among these institutions to promote regional collaboration and foster partnerships with other institutions and the industry in training and applied research to produce innovative solutions for real development impact; and (d) developing a culture of results-orientation and accountability in institutional management through a performance-based financing mechanism of the project. As a regional project, ACE II will be governed by its Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and facilitated by its Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) – IUCEA.
ACEs will be selected through a competitive and transparent process. The submitted proposals will be evaluated by an Independent Evaluation Committee and the RSC will make the final selection decision. Interested institutions should meet all the following eligibility criteria: (i) be from the participating countries; (ii) offer PhD program(s); and (iii) have programs in at least one disciplinary area related to one of the regional development priorities indicated above. Proposals are expected to encompass the following elements: (a) enhancing capacity to deliver regional high quality training to address challenge(s) in one of the regional development priorities; (b) enhancing capacity to deliver applied research to address the challenge(s); (c) building and strengthening regional and inter-regional academic collaboration to raise the quality of education, raise the capacity of network, and raise the capacity of the ACE; (d) building and using industry/sector partnerships to enhance the impact of the ACE on development, and increase the relevance of these centers of education and research; and (e) enhancing governance and management of the ACE, and the participating university to improve monitoring and evaluation.
All proposals must be submitted electronically to the RFU through the government ministry responsible for higher education in their respective countries. ACE II Proposal Submission Form, ACE II Evaluation Protocol, ACE II Project Description and Results Framework are available on the ACE II website: http://ace2.iucea.org. The deadline for submission of proposals to the RFU by the respective governments is October 2nd, 2015.