The World Bank Group and the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) signed a grant agreement totaling $8 million to support a new regional initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of higher education institutions to deliver quality post-graduate education and collaborative research in development priority areas for Eastern and Southern Africa.
The grant is part of $148 million International Development Association (IDA) funding approved in May for the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project (ACE II).
There are eight countries to benefit from the regional initiative including Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, according to a statement.
The project will strengthen 24 competitively-selected Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs) in five clusters of regional priorities, including Industry, Agriculture, Health, Education and Applied Statistics.
IUCEA will play the role of coordination, facilitation and administration for the implementation of the project
“Eastern and Southern Africa’s continuing economic growth and transformation requires sufficient number of higher-skilled personnel in science, technology and innovation, according to the international experience,” said Moustapha Ndiaye, World Bank Coordinating Director for Regional Integration.
“As most countries in the region do not have the full capacity to meet the high demand for such human capital, a regional approach that pursues economies of scale and public goods through regional specialisation and coordination of investment in this area among the countries across the region is appropriate and has received the endorsement of leadership and stakeholders in the region.”
It is envisioned that the ACE II Project will foster a network of ACEs across the region to promote quality and relevance of higher education in the region.
Each of the specialised centres of excellence will receive up to $6 million for implementing its proposal in training and applied research through partnerships with public institutions and the private sector in a specific regional priority area.
IUCEA is expected to support the capacity building of these centres, facilitate knowledge exchanges among them, and monitor progress during the implementation.
“We would like to thank governments of the eight participating countries who have committed over 140 million loan from the World Bank to establish Centres of Excellence,” Said Alexandre Lyambabaje, IUCEA Executive Secretary.
“We are confident that this project will improve regional collaboration in teaching and research, bridge skill gaps, and produce graduates who are fit for the job market.”
The ACE II project will employ a results-based financing approach to incentivise the centres and ensure they achieve the agreed results.
By the time the project concludes in 2022, it is expected that the ACEs will have developed sufficient capacity to become a sustainable regional hub for training and research to address priority development challenges in the region.
Source: The New Times