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Regional approaches to tackling development challenges


How ACE Impact Project is transforming Education and Research in Africa

The ACE Impact for Development Project is in its third year of implementation and has recorded notable successes in delivering high-quality training, competitive applied research, impactful industry/sector partnerships, mutually beneficial regional and international academic partnerships, and enhanced institutional governance and management of the participating universities. 
As of November 2020, there were 10,817 masters and doctoral students enrolled across the 53 Centers, 24% of these being regional students. The number of female students across the centers reached 3,333, aligning with the project's gender inclusion goal of at least 30% female students being trained at any point in time.

The results achieved by the centers are in harmony with the project's objective of improving the quality, quantity, and development impact of postgraduate education in participating universities through regional specialization and collaboration across West and Central Africa.
Eighty-two programmes being offered by the Centers are in the process of being internationally accredited, creating opportunities for increases in enrollment, as well as boosting the employability of graduates from the centers. Accreditation of programmes verifies if an institution meets or exceeds the minimum quality standards, making the courses and centers internationally competitive. 
ACE Impact regional Approach
The ACE impact regional approach utilizes collaboration in training to meet the national level needs. For example, the centers hosted by the universities enroll students wishing to be trained in specific thematic areas from across the continent. In addition, the centers leverage the resident capacities in the region and beyond to support the training and supervision of the post-graduate students. Further to this, students are provided with internships and given the opportunity to complete them either in their home countries or regionally. This regional approach facilitates cross-fertilization of ideas and understanding of research problems from national, regional, and global perspectives.
Centers COVID-19 Response
The COVID-19 pandemic presented opportunities for centers to cooperate, sharing knowledge and best practices nationally, regionally, and internationally with various partners through their contributions and experiences towards controlling the spread of this pandemic. Professor Christian Happi is a leading researcher at the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Redeemer’s University, Nigeria. The center is in partnership with the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and other research and public health partners, to implement a Sentinel project for an early warning system in Africa. The project combines genomics with advanced information technologies to transform infectious disease surveillance in real-time. An early warning that could save millions of lives.

Creating a Safe Learning Environment for Students
Along with attracting both national and regional students, meeting the required infrastructure standards, and ensuring the centers remain internationally competitive, creating safe learning spaces and environments is a top priority for ACE Impact. The project prioritizes the safety of all stakeholders involved, especially students, through the incorporation of sexual harassment policies and the development of grievance mechanisms systems. Each center of excellence, as part of the disbursements linked indicators, produced a comprehensive sexual harassment policy, as well as appointed a focal person/office responsible for monitoring and implementing the policy. The ACEs also engage students regularly on these policies and clarify to them how they can report any form of sexual harassment.

Additionally, the project appointed an expert in year 2020 to review all the anti-sexual harassment policies and provide feedback which the ACEs used to improve their policies where necessary.  Webinars were also held by the Association of African Universities and the World Bank teams from January-March 2020 to raise awareness among the students and build capacities of all those involved. 

Moving Forward
As the world adapts to the new digital and virtual reality, the regional approach has been applied to build the capacity of faculty with online teaching methods and technology. Capacity building workshops are being run virtually bringing in experts from Switzerland, Morocco and Senegal to facilitate the sessions. The ACE Impact faculty from the 11 countries converge virtually to participate.

Find out more about ACE Impact regional approach here 
Visit ACE Impact website
Get to know the Emerging Center of Excellence for Logistics and Transport in Djibouti (CEALT)
The Africa Center of Excellence for Logistics and Transport (CEALT) is one of the two emerging centers of Excellence located in Djibouti, and one of the five new emerging centers of excellence under the ACE Impact Project.  The republic of Djibouti places a high premium on education, seeing it as an essential tool for Djibouti’s growth and development. Given the country’s strategic location (the Suez Canal, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Shipping route) and its significance in global trade and international shipping, CEALT is top priority for the Government as the country continues to leverage its natural positioning to its advantage.   

Since its establishment, the Africa Center of Excellence for Logistics and Transport has continued to be an active player in the logistics sector by strengthening the capacity of human resources on the continent through training, education (at Masters and PhD levels), research, and services to the society in the form of community engagement. It practices an active pedagogy, with a strong component of exposure to problem-solving, case studies, and internships in companies. 
This Center of Excellence prioritizes the promotion of women's access to higher education and the investment of efforts to increase the number of female students and faculty until equality is achieved.

Key Objectives and Expected Results
CEALT aims to provide the Republic of Djibouti, as well as the countries in the region, with highly competent and innovative technicians, specialists, engineers and executives in the strategic development sectors of Africa such as Logistics, Transport, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.

CEALT offers high-quality engineering training which responds to the real needs identified in promising socio-economic sectors such as transport systems, electrical and energy engineering (GEE), civil engineering (GC), and Data Sciences (MDS).

The center has a target to promote research within the University of Djibouti, and beyond, through the production of high-level scientific research articles.

Find out more about CEALT here
Bridging the Gender Gap 

ACE Impact Champions Women & Girls Education, and Leadership

Having more females empowered through the acquisition of higher education degrees and relevant skills has been a key focus of the ACE Impact project. Female enrolment and involvement in the higher education sector, particularly in STEM subjects, has generally been low, with stakeholders being called upon to invest efforts to ensure that the pipeline of women in higher education as students, administrators, researchers, and leaders increases in proportion to the population of women in Africa.

ACE Impact is strategically responding to this call, by highlighting female enrolment as a key disbursement linked indicator in a bid to encourage all centers to prioritise female student enrolment in their centers. Current figures show that the project is making some remarkable progress in closing the gender gap in higher education.
For the period January 2019 - December 2020, the number of females enrolled in ACE Impact Centers stood at 3,333, representing 31% of the overall target of enrolling 10,707 females during the project’s life cycle.

The project is advocating and calling on all centers to continue pursuing the set target, strategising new innovative ways to attract more female candidates into their centers until the gender is well and truly closed.
Within higher education, a key area where women are significantly underrepresented is in positions of leadership. With the month of March being dedicated to the celebration of Women (8th March being International Women’s Day), we focus our attention on one of our female center leaders who is serving as a key role model to young female students and faculty across Africa.
Prof. Grace Jokthan is the center leader of the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) and a member of the University Governing Council of the National Open University of Nigeria. She obtained her Bachelor of Agriculture degree in 1990 from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria and her Masters and Doctorate degrees from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria in 2002 and 2006 respectively. Prof. Jokthan’s key message to younger women in all ACE Impact centers:
"all challenges are surmountable through persistence,
hard work, and remaining focused.”
In an exclusive interview with the ACE Impact communications team, she states that the journey to the top has not been easy. "As a woman, you have to put in almost twice the effort a man does to succeed, especially in the male dominated society that we find ourselves in. The roles of parenting, housekeeping, academic/office demands can be daunting and requires a delicate balance. With hard work, reaching your goals and being in a strategic leadership position to contribute to the transformation agenda, is within reach” she said. 
Click here to find out more about Prof. Grace's Journey  
Find out more about ACETEL here 
Building capacities in Francophone Africa
A closer look at Guinea 
A total of 26 francophone Africa Centers of Excellence are involved in the ACE Impact project and have been working to improve the quality, quantity, and development impact of postgraduate education in francophone Africa.  We focus our lenses on the African Center of Excellence for the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases (CEA -PCMT). Hosted by the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry (UGANC) in Guinea, CEA-PCMT aims to sustainably improve the prevention and control of communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. Its objective is to establish at UGANC, a regional program of excellence in training and research on communicable diseases.

The center was created in 2019 as part of the ACE Impact project and is offering world-class training geared towards innovation and impacting society. This process involves public and private development actors at national, regional, and international levels to achieve its goals. The center has partnerships with individuals and units from various higher education institutions including the following: the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; University of Montpellier; University of Sherbrooke; University of Ghana, Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp; and University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako (USTTB), Mali.
Click here to find out about programs offered at CEA-PCMT 
Meet Our Female Students Changing Perspectives & Challenging the Odds #IWD2021
Safiatou TRAORE, a national of Burkina Faso, is enrolled for her PhD studies at the Center for Training, Research and Expertise in Medicine Sciences (CFOREM) hosted by Joseph KI-ZERBO University in Burkina Faso. Her research title is “research and development of creams based on honey, shea butter and Burkinabè plant extracts for the treatment of burns". She indicated that in Burkina Faso, 13.7% of children under the age of 5 are admitted in hospitals for burns. The local treatment of burns is currently based on expensive imported products which are financially inaccessible to the majority of the population. “This research will not only produce an affordable local treatment for burns but will also create new outlets and commercial opportunities for the honey and shea butter producers, who are mainly women's associations in Burkina Faso.”
Read more about Safiatou's story here
Jessica Nnenna Uwanibe is one of many young female scientists enrolled in a PhD/Master’s program at one of the ACE Impact centers. As a young and upcoming African Scientist, Miss Uwanibe has always wanted to solve global health challenges through her research. Jessica is scheduled to complete her PhD studies in Molecular Biology and Genomics at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) hosted by Redeemer’s University in Nigeria. Her research is focused on identifying and comprehending drug-resistant patterns of Salmonella species in southwest Nigeria, a subject she hopes will help treat thousands of people, reduce suffering, and save lives. “This research will work to inform the proper diagnosis of Salmonella-related diseases and suggest improved monitoring policies in Nigeria.”
Read more about Jessica's story here
January - March Highlights
  1. Mr. Raymond Affossogbe received a scholarship from the Centre of Excellence in Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science and Applications (CEA SMIA) project. He defended his thesis on the theme of dimension reduction in a functional or multidimensional spatial context. CEA SMIA, is hosted by the University of Abomey- Calavi, Benin. Read the full article here
  2. CEA SMIA holds 2021 Special Session of the National Steering Committee of the African Centre of Excellence for Development Impact Projects, University of Abomey- Calavi, Benin. Find out more about the session findings here
  3. The African Center of Excellence in Technological Innovation for the Elimination of Vector-borne Diseases (CEA ITECH / MTV) of the Nazi BONI University (UNB) trains students on scientific documentary research, scientific writing, and digital tools for developing bibliographic references read more
  4. Access the Minutes of the African Centre of Excellence in Mining and the Mining Environment (CEA MEM) of the Institut National Polytechnique Félix HOUPHOUET BOIGNY Workshop organised by the Ministry of Science and Research's National Monitoring Committee. Find the minutes here
  5. West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL): Call for Applications for admissions into International Masters Programme, with full Scholarships available. Apply here 
  6. West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI): Apply Now - Post Graduate Admissions to Masters or Phd Degrees respectively. 
  7. Lassa Fever: What You Need to Know About it, and ACEGID’s Work to Support the Fight against Lassa Fever Outbreaks: Learn More
  8. Read how the ACEs in West Africa are responding to COVID-19 Learn More
  9. Access the update on the World Bank/ AAU COVID Task force Activities Read More
  10. The Impact of African Scientists: How years of building scientific capacity in Africa have been a real game-changer in the response to COVID-19 Read the full article here

This newsletter is brought to you by:

Ekua Bentil                                          Himdat Bayusuf                                       Dr Sylvia Mkandawire
Education Specialist, World Bank       Education Specialist, World Bank            ACE Impact Project Manager
ACE Impact Co-Task Team Leader     ACE Impact Co-Task Team Leader         Association of African Universities

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