Building the Next Generation of African ICT Specialists through ACE Impact Project
Promoting Digital Education in African Universities

Digital education has assumed growing importance over the past several years, as higher education institutions, and a growing number of institutions of all sizes are now adopting digital education programs. Disruption to the academic calendars, influenced by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompted the need to strengthen digital education by building pedagogical and technological capacities in quality online education. 

The UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) Covid-19 Education Response 2021 report confirms that during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, unlike other parts of the world, Sub-Saharan Africa struggled in terms of digital tools and personnel to meet the demand in supporting online teaching and learning, especially during school and university closures. Efforts are being made by various African governments as well as development partners to improve digital education in African universities.

Centres and their achievements  
Since its inception in 2014, the Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project has been committed to projecting STEM Education and digital development in African universities. The aim is to bridge the knowledge gap in digital development, train students and professionals to meet the growing demands in the continent’s digital market, in digital education and beyond; in health, finance, agriculture and other sectors. There are eight centres of excellence dedicated to promoting digital development in the sub-region.

Collectively, these centres have made immense impact in the training of the next generation of ICT specialists and professionals that can support digital infrastructure and the needed ecosystem to further improve adoption of digital technologies in the region. Over 1,273 MSc students and 453 PhD students have been enrolled under these centres. 1,064 professionals have enhanced their knowledge and skills through Short Course Programmes offered by the centres. 

Find out more 
ACE Impact project releases Guidebook for Successful Implementation of Digital Education 

The ACE Impact project published ‘The Guidebook to a Successful Implementation of Digital Education’.  The Guidebook, which is made available in English and French, explains e-learning  effectively and aims to guide decision-makers  of higher education institutions through the major change processes that digital education implementation represents. Among other relevant topics, this book presents content covering the following areas: Digital Education definitions and related terms; innovation and trends in higher education; and digital education readiness assessment and approaches to successful implementation. 

It was developed based on specialized literature and is inspired by global best practices of institutions that are leaders in this field. The guide integrates content on pedagogical strategies, which are sometimes overlooked but are essential to the success of any digital education program.

Find out more here
Download the Guidebook

How ACE Impact Thematic Networks are Driving Digital Development on the Continent

Under the ACE Impact project, two thematic networks are working diligently, to promote digital development in Africa. These are the African Digital Education Network (ADEN) and the Digital Science and Technology Network (DSTN). The regional network approach is unique and offers a wide range of advantages, including the ability of ACE Impact centres involved and their partners to pull resources together to achieve a common goal.

ADEN focuses on raising awareness of the benefits of digital education across Africa, sharing resources with institutions of higher education in Africa, among other core mandates. DSTN is working to develop a range of skills and research in e-health, e-agriculture, e-environment, intelligent cities and transport, e-education, critical for Africa, in a growing global digital economy.
Click here for the ACEs involved in ADEN and DSTN 

Key Achievements of the Networks so far  

Both ADEN and DSTN have recorded remarkable progress since their formation in 2019 with funding support from the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD) through the ACE PARTNER initiative respectively, to further digital development on the continent. ADEN has been able to organize a successful virtual staff and student symposium (on 17th May 2021) which featured scientific paper presentations from 10 participants.

DSTN hosted a highly successful symposium dubbed “Digital Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in Africa”, from 6th to 10th December 2021 at the Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis, Senegal. The symposium gathered 300 participants from various countries including Sénégal, Ivory Coast, Benin, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Niger, Mauritania, Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda and France. The DSTN has hosted various thematic workshops, including on e-Agriculture and on Digital Science for health. These workshops are targeted at:

(1) identifying strengths and complementarity of the partners on each topic
(2) promoting networking and collaboration to apply for the DSTN call for Research-Team and other calls for funding
(3) identifying lecture and training needs and opportunities for the ACEs.

Find out more about these thematic networks and the ACEs involved here

ACE Impact Partners with IBM to Offer STEM Training to Students and Faculty 

Enhancing STEM education and research in Africa has been one of the core focuses of the ACE Impact project and it’s participating centres. The ACE Impact project has partnered with International Business Machines Corp (IBM) to build the capacity of centers through training workshops for ACE faculty and students on Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Application. This collaboration aims to ensure that students are gaining practical research experience and developing key advanced digital skills, which in turn will improve their employability, including their participation in the workforce as entrepreneurs  Since its inception in 2020, 110 ACE faculty and students have benefited from the training.

Preparations are on-going for student internship opportunities at IBM Research Labs in Kenya and South Africa. An initial set of 11 students will be selected for the first year. Students will carry out research in areas such as developing analytics and AI tools and methods; and creating cloud and blockchain solutions for health, climate risk, food supply chain and other domains. The selection process is underway and interviews with shortlisted applicants will take place in March 2022. 

Mr. Patrick Hussaini, a student from the Africa Centre of Excellence for Mycotoxin and Food Safety (ACEMFS), Nigeria speaking on the relevance of the training to industry needs stated "the skills acquired are crucial to the African market, as it can help improve organizational processes and strengthen systems." 
Read more about ACE Impact/IBM partnership
KNUST College of Engineering (Ghana) awarded CAD $1million grant 
The Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Prof. (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson (in the middle) with Pro Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo (2nd from right) with, Prof. Abdu- Rahman Ahmed (right), Prof. Mark Adom-Asamoah (2nd from left) and Prof. Jerry John Kponyo (left) 
The College of Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the KNUST Engineering Education Project (KEEP), one of the nine Centres of Excellence  in Ghana has been awarded a grant to fund the establishment of a Responsible Artificial Intelligence Lab (RAIL) under the Artificial Intelligence for Development (AI4D) Africa Multidisciplinary Labs project initiated by International Development Research Centre (IDRC). RAIL has been envisioned as a Maker Space that would develop talents in Data Science and Machine Learning to help bridge the widening skills gap needed to champion the Digital Economic Transformation agenda of Ghana and the Sub-Region. 

The CAD $1 Million Lab would be decentralized to allow intelligent, flexible, and future-oriented collaboration across multiple sites using common IT equipment. Prof. Jerry John Kponyo, who is the Principal Investigator (PI) and the Scientific Director of the Lab and the Deputy Project Lead for KEEP stressed the “need to adopt collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach to solving the peculiar challenges in the sub-region.” He is of the view that Artificial Intelligence holds the key to leveraging technologies to unlock the potential of highly talented young innovators in the sub-region.

Find out more here 
Centres for Competence in Digital Education
AAU-EPFL joint capacity-building initiative 
Under the ACE Impact for Development project a collaboration was initiated by the Association of African Universities and the EPFL – École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne of Switzerland to implement the Centers of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE) Initiative. The C-CoDE initiative involves six (6) ACE Impact host Universities that were competitively selected  to establish Centers of Competence in Digital Education on their campuses. The C-CoDE centers are being mentored to promote the sustainable integration of digital education in their teaching processes, as a means of strengthening the quality of teaching as well as expanding access to higher education.  

The C-CoDE initiative recognizes the need for ICTs to be implemented in a thoughtful way so that the focus shifts from the technology to how the teaching methods, faculty, and students interact with the technology in order to achieve the intended teaching and learning outcomes. The initiative is being piloted from September 2021 to July 2022, training close to 200 faculty and staff. 
Find out more about C-CoDE here
Profiling the African Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL)  

The Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) was established in February 2019 and is located at the headquarters of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Jabi, Abuja, Nigeria. The centre is one of 53 financed by the  World Bank & AFD,  ACE Impact project, receiving technical support from the Association of African Universities, and National Universities Commission (NUC). The Centre focuses on the development of human capacity and research in digital solutions that will lead to the utilization of technology for education and its deployment to other sectors. 

ACETEL's programmes are designed to build capacity in Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Security, and Management Information Systems courses at the postgraduate level leading to the production of highly skilled human resource to drive the adoption and use of ICT solutions. It also offers short courses to bridge technology knowledge gaps.

Specifically, ACETEL's research focuses on gaps, needs assessment of digital capacity development, solutions, and policy issues in the education and public sectors; effectiveness of green logistics; information technology learning tools on students’ academic achievement in STEM-related courses; developing smart digital learning tools for science in Open and Distance Education; impact of Cybercrime on Learners’ Academic Performance and Research Data Integrity; and enhancing postgraduate learners’ research skills using cloud computing learning tools.   

In 2021, 41 students gained admission into ACETEL. These students comprised of both national and regional students, 11 female and 30 male students enrolled from The Gambia, Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda.  
Read more here
Visit the centre's website

KNUST Engineering Education Project (KEEP, Ghana) Scholars Win The National Cyber Quiz Competition 2021
Otuekong Ekpo (at  the left) with Joseph Atta Yeboah (at the middle) and Solomon Dodoo (at the right) 
KNUST made history by lifting the trophy for the maiden edition of the Cyber Quiz. Competition. KEEP scholars won a cash prize, certificates and a sponsorship for a compliance and cyber analyst course in January 2022. The 2021 National Cyber Quiz Competition was organized by the Institute of Compliance and Cyber Studies to create awareness about Cyber-Security and its related issues. KNUST was ably represented by Joseph Atta Yeboah, Otuekong Ekpo and Solomon Dodoo Attoh, postgraduate students of the Cyber-Security and Digital Forensics programme from the Department of Computer Science.
Read more here
TRECK enhances centres digital infrastructure to expand online training & regional access
The Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) – Regional Transport Research and Education Centre Kumasi (TRECK)  has acquired various digital tools to provide hands-on training for its graduate students.  Since November 2019, TRECK annually embarks on training workshops for students aimed at mainstreaming the use of digital tools for traffic data collection and project monitoring in Kumasi.

TRECK Sets up Studio and Embarks on Digitization of Courses
TRECK has also acquired studio equipment to enable its staff to offer hybrid courses, webinars and provide online teaching. The Centre is currently embarking on a drive to digitize its MSc Transport Leadership course to enable participants to take over 60% online classes and only 30% residential on-campus activities. This will make its courses accessible to more participants across the regional countries.

Find out more here
STUDENT VOICES - Essohanam Djeki's quest to improve the use of ICT in Education across Africa
Essohanam DJEKI is a Togo national and a Ph.D. student at the African Center of Excellence in Mathematical Science, Informatics, and Applications (CEA-SMIA), hosted by the Institute of Mathematics and Physical Sciences - University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin. He received his master’s degree in Information and Communication Technology from CEA-SMIA  in 2020.  His PhD thesis is being jointly supervised with the African Center of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Curious, determined, organized, rigorous, persevering, and creative, Essohanam is passionate about Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Artificial Intelligence.

Essohanam is now in his 2nd year of his Ph.D. studies, addressing African distance learning spaces’ security within the COVID-19 context. His research aims to propose solutions to protect the privacy and personal data of participants (students and teachers) during online courses. He decided to focus on Digital Education because he finds it crucial and beneficial to enhance ICT use in higher education and education in general. “I remember using ICT to prepare essays and dealing with some examinations in my final year of high school. It helped me a lot! I don't want others to be late in discovering the benefits that ICT could bring to Education." For his professional career, Essohanam aims to "carry out projects with socio-economic impacts and contribute to the adoption, integration, and use of ICTs in African education." 
Read Essohanam's full story here
The ACE Impact project has launched an exciting new educational video series covering our centres of excellence across Africa. The documentary videos feature information on the centre, their available programmes, various new and innovative research taking place, student experiences, facilities, opportunities and much more. The first in the video series comes from the African Centre of Excellence in Coastal Resilience (ACECoR) in Ghana. ACECoR is developing the capacity of young professionals to address issues of coastal degradation in Africa to achieve sustainable management and use of coastal environment. 
Click here to watch the documentary on ACECoR
Maximizing Your Digital Reach

Centre Website of the Month - Congratulations to Regional Transport Research and Education Centre Kumasi (TRECK) located at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Kumasi in Ghana for their visually engaging and technologically advanced website. TRECK aims to be a leading hub in applying technological innovations, research knowledge, training, and more to the transport, mobility, and integrated logistics sector. Find out about their programmes, learn more about their scholarshipsshort courses, and current open calls for application. Visit their website here for more information. 

September - February Highlights
  1. The West African Genetic Medicine Centre (WAGMC) welcomes first cohort of students into its new MSc Genetic Counselling Programme. Read more
  2. WAGMC center leader receives multimillion dollar grant. Find out more
  3. WACCBIP Pitches Docudrama on Hearing Impairment at 2021 Falling Walls Engage Summit. Read more here 
  4. The Food For West Africa network has launched its activities in Lomé. More information about the network can be found here 
  5. Pali Lehohla, Former Statistician-general of Stats South Africa, Receives Award at ENSEA for Leadership in Statistics. To read more about the award, visit this link here
  6. WACWISA participates in the development of solar powered irrigation system. Read more
  7. WACWISA student wins UDS 2021 Vice Chancellor’s Business Innovation Award. Congratulations to the student. Read more about the award
  8. UDS student designs technology for cleaning polluted water bodies. Read more
  9. Exchanges within the framework of the WASEND network: stay of Mrs. Karoll Nabaloum of 2iE at KNUST. Learn more
  10. Laetitia Zoungrana, doctoral student at LabEREE-2iE wins the prize for best oral communication at the 3rd congress of the West African Society of Physics (SOAPHYS). Check out the prize 
  11. ACEGID Hosts 2nd Hands-on Training on Next Generation Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 Visit this news article to know more about the training. Learn more here
  12. ACEGID wins Nigeria Academy of Science gold medal. Learn more
  13. . WACCBIP leader appointed University of Ghana Pro VC. Read more
  14. World Bank Vice-President for West and Central Africa visits Lomé University.  Read more
  15. KNUST wins the Zone 2 contest of the Ghana Gas Challenge. Find out about their journey to success here
  16. ACE-PUTOR leads a public enlightenment programme on Carbon Pollution (Black Soot). Read more
  17. Two years of COVID-19 in Africa: Publication by ACEGID Learn more
  18. Prof. Felix Abagale of WACWISA holds 10th Inaugural Lecture on  “Damming the Rivers for Sustainable Livelihoods: Challenges and Emerging Opportunities in the Global South” 
  19. ACEPHAP partners with the Jigawa State Government in Nigeria to boost health indices. 
  20. Niger holds its National Steering Committee meeting to discuss project progress and the way forward.

This newsletter is brought to you by:

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

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