24 centres of excellence for East and Southern Africa

The World Bank Group’s board of executive directors has approved a US$140 million credit for eight Eastern and Southern African countries to set up 24 centres of excellence in universities to strengthen postgraduate training and research in priority sectors.

There are four excellence centres each for Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, three for Kenya, two each for Malawi and Zambia and one for Mozambique under the project being coordinated and administered by the Inter-University Council for East Africa or IUCEA, based in Uganda.

The Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project, or ACE II, follows on ACE I, which was launched in 2014 for Western and Central Africa, with 19 centres of excellence selected across seven countries.

What the centres will do

IUCEA said each of the 24 African centres of excellence, or ACEs, would be funded by up to US$6 million over the project period of five years.

They are expected to tackle development challenges facing the region through graduate training in masters, PhD and short-term courses, and "applied research in the form of partnerships and collaborations with other institutions and the private sector”, said IUCEA.

“Over the project duration of five years, collectively these ACEs are expected to enrol more than 3,500 graduate students in the regional development priority areas, out of which more than 700 will be PhD students and more than 1,000 will be female students, publish almost 1,500 journal articles, launch more than 300 research collaborations with private sector and other institutions, and generate almost US$30 million in external revenue.”

The ACEs will help to build the capacity of their host universities to provide quality postgraduate education with relevance to the labour market, and to conduct high quality applied research that seeks innovative solutions to key development priorities.

They will be expected to develop partnerships with other academic institutions, nationally as well as regionally and internationally, and with industry and the private sector “to generate greater impact”.

Further, the centres will help to improve governance and management of their host university and be role models for other higher education institutions, and will deliver outreach and create impact in society by delivering excellent teaching and quality research.

The 24 ACEs, which were competitively selected from 108 proposals, will operate in five clusters of regional priorities – industry, agriculture, health, education and applied statistics – the World Bank said in a statement in late May.

A regional force

“Countries in Eastern and Southern Africa need to expand, transform and sustain their economies into the next level of development. For that to happen, they have to rely more on higher level science and technology skills and knowledge,” said the bank.

“The Africa Centers of Excellence initiative is creating synergies in higher education across the sub-region by optimising limited resources and deepening cooperation between countries, while equipping young people with highly relevant skills and knowledge,” said Moustapha Ndiaye, World Bank coordinating director for regional integration.

IUCEA said that by the end of the project in December 2022, it was envisaged that the centres “will have developed sufficient capacity to become sustainable regional hubs for training and research in their specialised fields, capable of leading efforts to address priority development challenges and improve lives in the region”.

The new centres of excellence

1- Addis Ababa University
ACE for Water Management
2- Addis Ababa University
African Railway Education and Research Institute
3- Addis Ababa University
Centre for Innovative Drug Development and Therapeutic Trials for Africa
4- Haramaya University
ACE for Climate Smart Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation

5- Egerton University
Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management
6- Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology
Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Use of Insects a Food and Feeds
7- Moi University
Centre of Excellence in Phytochemicals, Textiles and Renewable Energy

8- Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources
African Centre of Excellence for Aquaculture and Fisheries Science
9- University of Malawi – Malawi College of Medicine
African Centre of Excellence for Public Health and Herbal Medicine

10- Universidade Eduardo Mondlane
Centre of Studies in Oil and Gar Engineering and Technology

11- University of Rwanda – College of Business and Economics
African Centre of Excellence for Data Sciences
12- University of Rwanda – College of Science and Technology
African Centre of Excellence in Energy for Sustainable Development
13- University of Rwanda – College of Science and Technology
African Centre of Excellence in Internet of Things
14- University of Rwanda – College of Education
African Centre of Excellence for Innovative Teaching and Learning Mathematics and Science

15- Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology
Collaborating Centre for Research, Evidence, Agricultural Advancement and Teaching Excellence and Sustainability
16- Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology
Water Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy Centre for the Future
17- Sokoine University of Agriculture
African Centre of Excellence for Innovative Rodent Pest Management and Biosensor Technology Development
18- Sokoine University of Agriculture
Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance

19- Makerere University
Centre of Materials, Product Development and Nanotechnology
20- Makerere University
Makerere University Centre for Crop Investment
21- Mbarara University of Science and Technology
Pharm-Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine Centre
22- Uganda Martyrs University
African Centre for Agro-Ecology and Livelihood Systems

23- Copperbelt University
Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining
23- University of Zambia
Africa Centre of Excellence for Infectious Diseases of Humans and Animals