By DAYO ADESULU
Seven Nigerian universities have successfully emerged among the 15 African universities selected for the World Bank-sponsored project by African Centres of Excellence (ACE).
The selection has indicated that some Nigerian universities are competitive in their tripartite functions of teaching, research and community service.
The benefiting 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 new ACEs in Nigeria and their project titles are: Redeemers University, Mowe, Ogun State /University of Ibadan, Ibadan (African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, ACEGID); African University of Science and Technology, 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).
According to the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission NUC, NUC, Professor Julius Okojie, the project is aimed at developing regional higher education that would promote regional specialisation among universities and address particular common regional development challenges. He said that it is also aimed at strengthening the capacities of benefiting 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. It would be recalled that following the call for proposals by the World Bank on 15 July, 2013, Nigerian universities submitted 55 proposals to the NUC in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as Agriculture and Health Sciences.”
Okojie explained that in an effort to ensure that grant winning proposals were submitted from Nigerian universities, NUC constituted the National Project Performance and Review Committee (NPPRC), an evaluation Committee, headed by Professor Adebisi Balogun, to review and enhance the quality of the proposals.
The proposals further went through desk evaluations by a team of 22 African and international evaluators. Of the 52 proposals that were submitted by all participating countries to the RFU/AAU, only 31 were shortlisted, with 16 of them from Nigerian universities.