Nigerian universities have again proven to be globally competitive in their tripartite functions of teaching, research and community service as three more universities: Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife; Bayero University, Kano (BUK) and Benue State University (BSU) Makurdi, have won grants in the on-going World Bank-assisted Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) project. With the new development, Nigerian institutions now have 10 out of the 18 ACE projects in Africa.
The new projects are: Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (OAU Knowledge Park; A Model for National Science Technology and Knowledge Park Initiative, STEM) Bayero University, Kano (African Centre of Excellence in Dryland Agriculture, Agriculture) and Benue State University, Makurdi (Centre for Food Technology and Research, CEFTER, Agriculture).
It would be recalled that seven universities had earlier emerged among the 15 African universities earlier selected for the World Bank-sponsored ACE project. The universities were selected after their proposals were evaluated and considered to have met the requirements for the ACE project, at the end of the Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting, held in Dakar, Senegal, on 28 October, 2013.
The previous seven ACEs in Nigeria and their project titles were: Redeemer’s University, Mowe, Ogun State/University of Ibadan, Ibadan (African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, ACEGID); African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja (Pan-African Materials Institute [PAMI]); Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (Centre for Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment); Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (Centre of Excellence on Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology); University of Jos (Phytomedicine Research and Development, ACEPRD); University of Benin (Centre for Excellence in Reproductive Health and Innovation) and the University of Port Harcourt (ACE Centre for Oil Field Chemicals).
The ACE project was launched in 2013 by the Governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, with support from the World Bank, to promote regional specialisation among participating universities within areas that address particular regional development challenges and strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver high quality training and applied research.
The project is aimed at developing regional higher education that promotes regional specialisation among universities and addresses particular common regional development challenges. It is also targeted at strengthening the capacities of benefitting universities to deliver high quality training and applied research. This is to meet the demand for skills required for Africa’s development, such as the extractive industries and agricultural productivity.
The project would also contribute to the strengthening of the best African universities within science-based education. The seven countries across West and Central Africa participating in the first phase of the project are Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cameroun, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Following the call for proposals by the World Bank on 15 July, 2013, Nigerian universities submitted 55 proposals to the National Universities Commission (NUC) in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as Agriculture and Health Sciences.
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