By Martin Paul in Abuja
The Federal Government has reiterated its determination to encourage effective research in the institutions housing African Centres of Excellence (ACE) in the country.
At the opening of a four-day workshop yesterday in Abuja on ACE impact to x-ray the implementation of the project, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Arc. Sunday Echono, said government was satisfied with the progress recorded so far in the centres.
He recalled the feat recorded by Redeemer University in the recovery of Ebola various vaccine and the University of Jos, for recovery of snake venom vaccine, adding that it was expected th\t other recovery would soon be made in other institutions, even across the member countries.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed, had said that plans were underway to set up a team to document all the achievements of Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE1) and make recommendations to Government on sustaining the gains of the project.
Rasheed disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the ACE 1 and ACE Impact Workshop to x-ray the implementation and the impact of the project.
He noted that the Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE1) Project was launched in 2013 to promote regional specialisation amongst Universities in the participating countries within the West and Central African sub-regions and to address common regional development challenges and strengthen their capacities to deliver high quality training and applied research.
“The broad objective of the Project is to meet the labour market demands for skills within specific areas where there are skill gaps that affect development, economic growth and poverty reduction”.
“Since the first regional workshop that held here in Abuja in 2014 during which the Project was formally launched, the ACEs across the region have gone through rigorous processes towards achieving their objectives”.
“As the first phase of the Project (ACE 1) approaches closure in March 2020, I am glad to announce to you that the Centres have met most of the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs), and in some cases, surpassed them”.
According to him, the Universities hosting the ACE1 Project in Nigeria have recorded a number of successes in the last five years.
He listed some of the success stories as, the enrolment of regional students from West and Central African countries into the Nigerian University System, for the first time in more than two decades; contributed to the production of high-level skilled manpower in specialised areas; encouraged interdisciplinary research in the Nigerian University System and also encouraged both institutional and private sector collaborations at national and international levels.
He further disclosed that one of the Nigerian ACEs spearheaded the containment of the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 and subsequently developed a 10-minute testing kit for both the Ebola and Lassa Fever viruses and another, developed the anti-snake venom vaccine known as COVIP-Plus among others.
The event, which was attended by representatives from the ACE centres, World Bank, the French Development Agency, AFD, the Association of African Universities, AAU, and NUC officials will afford the institutions the opportunity to exchange information on their respective programmes, build networks and forge partnerships.
It would be recalled that ACE, a World Bank initiative, was first launched in 2014 with 22 centres in nine West and Central African countries, including Benin,Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, while the second phase, ACE II, was launched in East and
Southern Africa with 24 centers across Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi,
Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
“Based on the initial successes, the World Bank and the French
Development Agency in collaboration with African governments, launched the ACE Impact Project in 2018 to strengthen post-graduate training and applied research in existing fields and support new fields that
are essential for Africa’s economic growth.