Ghana benefits from World Bank’s support for regional higher education centers

Ghana is among five African nations set to benefit from the World Bank’s support for the regional higher education centers for excellence on the continent.

In a statement from the Bank, an amount of US$143 million has been approved to help implement the First Africa Centers of Excellence for Development Impact in Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ghana, Guinea and Senegal. This was approved on March 27, 2019.

The International Development Association (IDA) credits and grants are to help the five selected countries to step up the quality and provision of applied research and higher education with a focus on the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Africa currently only produces few graduates in STEM compared to other fields, and the development of high-level skills is needed to increase productivity and promote the economic transformation of the continent.

The First Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE-Impact) aim to improve the quality, quantity and development impact of postgraduate education in selected universities in the beneficiary countries through regional specialization and collaboration in the fields of STEM.

With this new project, the World Bank is increasing its total financing for the Africa Centers for Excellence (ACEs) to US$456 million, including the previous phases – ACE 1 (US$165 million) and ACE 2 (US$148 million) — which are currently operational.

Most specifically under the three projects overall, 45 universities in 19 countries are implementing 58 ACEs where a total number of 24,000 students are enrolled, including 10,500 at the Masters’ level and 2,400 at the PhD level. 34 programs are certified to meet international quality standards, thus showing African higher education can meet global standards.

“The World Bank’s support for the ACEs is a shining example of how countries can come together for the benefit of everyone”, says Rachid Benmessaoud, Coordinating Director for Regional Integration in West Africa. “Under this regional program, each country specializes in a set of disciplines and encourages student and faculty exchanges so that among the countries many more disciplines are covered. They also establish strong regional and international partnerships to raise the quality of higher education and research”.

The newly-approved First ACE-Impact project will support sixteen (16) centers of excellence (ACEs) and two (2) “emerging centers”. While the ACEs aim to build regional capacity to deliver high quality postgraduate courses and conduct international caliber applied researches, the “emerging centers” will receive support to strengthen their programs mostly at the undergraduate and master’s level in a priority field.

“We are happy to help address the key challenges facing the higher education sector in Africa, so it can better contribute to regional development priorities. The ACE-Impact project responds well to the continent’s needs for scientific and technical skills to achieve its industrial development”, says Ekua Bentil, Education Specialist and co-Task Team Leader of the project.

By Joshua W. Amlanu