Seventh African Centres of Excellence (ACE) project workshop – Lagos, Nigeria
The Seventh African Centres of Excellence (ACE) workshop was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria from May 16-18, 2017. The workshop participants included representatives from the World Bank, Association of African Universities (AAU), and the 22 ACEs in West and Central Africa. The delegation from the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) included Prof. Gordon Awandare (Centre Leader), Prof. Kwadwo Koram (Deputy Centre Leader), Dr. Patrick Kobina Arthur (Head, Training and Research), Mr. Michael Somuah Nkansah (Project Manager), and Ms. Sika Menka (M & E focal person).
Welcome addresses were delivered by Mr. Andreas Blom (World Bank Task Team Leader) and Prof Etienne Ehile (AAU Secretary General). The opening addresses were given by Dr. Rachid Benmessaoud (World Bank Country Director), Prof. Hamidou Boly (ECOWAS Commissioner for Education, Science & Culture), and Prof. Adamu Rasheed (The Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission). The Nigerian Hon. Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, officially opened the workshop.
A progress report on the status of the ACE projects, an update on disbursement of funds and budget execution were presented by the AAU and World Bank representatives. All ACEs were also updated on the summary of mid-term findings by the World Bank team. During a plenary session on Partnerships, representatives from the Dangote Foundation, Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa, Department for International Development (DFID), International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the German Research Foundation (DFG), shared with the ACEs how they could develop industry partnerships.
There were parallel presentations by the 22 ACEs in three breakout sessions (STEM, Health and Agriculture). During the health session, each ACE presented a brief status update and outlined the management, university engagement, and teaching & research activities at their respective centres. The Director of WACCBIP, Prof. Gordon Awandare took other ACEs through a session on task and budget execution, as WACCBIP was identified as the ACE with the best task and budget execution. In a parallel session, the Head of Training & Research at WACCBIP, Dr. Patrick Arthur, also took the other ACEs through WACCBIPs International Accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology, UK experience. Other issues on the verification of results and Monitoring & Evaluation were discussed.
On the last day of the workshop, Mr. Andreas Blom took the teams through the modalities for ACE III. He stated that interested countries will request for participation by August 2017, and then submit concept notes by September 2017. The call for proposals will be launched in April 2018, with the stage process selection completed by August 2018, negotiations will begin in September 2018 and finally the World Bank Board will decide selected countries by December 2018. On improvements to the ACE III model, broader fields including economics and engineering will be included. Mr Blom also stated that companies & employers in the management, funding and supervision structure will also be incorporated from the start.
Lastly, on details of the next steps, there will be ACE audio meetings on July 6 and September 13, 2017. Country level or Centres procurement workshops in August 2017, supervision missions to selected ACEs in September/October, 2017 and the joint ACEs I and III workshop in Ghana in November 2017. He further mentioned a possible one year no cost extension to the current ACE model and provide additional support to 5-7 of the highly performing ACE centers.
The workshop wrapped up with an evaluation survey of the workshop. The seventh ACE project workshop will take place in November 2017 in Ghana.
The WACCBIP team at the ACE workshop