World Bank Approves $150m for African Universities

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World-Bank

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$150 million to finance 19 university-based Centres of Excellence in seven countries in West and Central Africa, 10 of which are Nigerian universities.

According to the World Bank, these competitively selected centres will receive funding for advanced specialized studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related disciplines, as well as in agriculture and health.

This landmark Africa Centers of Excellence (ACE) project, which will equip young Africans with new scientific and technical skills, will be financed through IDA credits to the governments of Nigeria (US$70 million), Ghana (US$24 million), Senegal (US$16 million), Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Togo (US$8 million each).

The Gambia will also receive a US $2 million credit and a US$1 million grant to provide higher education, including short-term training, to students, faculty and civil servants through the 19 ACEs.

The 10 universities benefiting from the facility in Nigeria include Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Universities of Benin, Jos, Port Harcourt, Bayero University, Obafemi Awolowo University; Federal University of Agriculture; African University of Science and Technology, Benue State University and Redeemers University.

“I am excited to support these pioneering centres of excellence because they will be another step in building and nurturing specialized world-class higher education institutions on the continent,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice-President for Africa.

“I can think of no better way to grow African economies, create jobs, and support research in Africa, than educating young graduates with expertise in high-demand areas such as chemical engineering, crop science, and the control of infectious diseases.”

The continent faces a serious shortage of skilled workers in fast-growing sectors such as extractive industries, energy, water, and infrastructure, as well as in the fields of health and telecommunications.

Further, Africa needs its own research and innovative solutions to tackle its development challenges including climate change, which calls for urgent measures to increase yields in agriculture; and infectious diseases, which continue to exact a heavy toll on families and economies.

“Students in West and Central Africa urgently need high-quality science and technology programs to compete in their own regional job market as well as the global economy, but not a single university from this part of Africa features in rankings of the world’s top 500 universities.

“The African Centers of Excellence project is a win-win initiative.Iit will help these young people achieve their aspirations without leaving Africa, and it will help firms to find advanced skills and knowledge domestically and to compete more effectively in international markets,” said Peter Materu, World Bank Education Manager for West & Central Africa.

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