Second call for centre of excellence in oil and gas

The World Bank and Inter-University Council for East Africa have jointly issued a repeat, special call for proposals to establish an Africa Centre of Excellence in the field of oil and gas for the Eastern and Southern Africa regions. An initial call last July failed to elicit a response.

The call has been made by the regional steering committee of the World Bank’s second African Centres of Excellence project, ACE II.

The first initiative – ACE I – was launched last year for Western and Central Africa, with 19 centres of excellence selected across seven countries. ACE I is funded to the tune of US$430 million and ends in 2018.

By August 2015 the International Development Association had committed US$140 million to ACE II, according to Xiaonan Cao, the World Bank’s senior education specialist for Eastern and Southern Africa.

ACE II is being carried out in collaboration with the governments of nine countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The main objectives are to strengthen specialisation and collaboration among a network of higher education institutions in the Eastern region of Africa and to deliver relevant, high quality postgraduate training and research aimed at tackling African challenges.

Key regional development priorities identified for ACE II are grouped in four cluster areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, agriculture and health, science, technology and innovation, and quality of education plus applied statistics.

The special call

“Though the initial call for proposals yielded over 100 submissions, there was no single proposal in the field of oil and gas,” said a statement released by the Inter-University Council for East Africa, or IUCEA, which is the ACE II regional facilitation unit.

The ACE II regional steering committee decided to issue a second call for submissions, because oil and gas is a “key growing sector and a development priority for the region”. Undoubtedly, there is an urgent need for high-level skills and research in the area.

Only Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda are allowed to apply to host the centre of excellence, as they are the only countries with emerging oil and gas sectors.

Institutions that have already started building capacity in oil and gas-related disciplinary areas – even if there is no existing PhD programme – are eligible to apply, with only one proposal per country allowed.

The selected ACE will be expected, among other things, to enhance capacity to deliver regional high quality training, to address the lack of skilled personnel, to deliver applied research that addresses problems in development of the oil and gas industry, to build regional and international academic collaborations to raise the quality of education, and to forge partnerships with industry to ensure the centre’s impact on the sector.

IUCEA said proposals must be submitted electronically through government ministries responsible for higher education by 20 December 2015. The World Bank will review projects early next year.