The ACE project was launched in 2013 by the governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, with support from the World Bank. The objective of the ACE Project is to promote regional specialisation among participating universities within areas that address particular regional development challenges and strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver high quality training and applied research.

The project consists of two components; the first is to build capacity in competitively selected institutions to produce in-demand, high skilled, labour and applied research. The second component will facilitate the regional impact and benefit of the strengthened Africa Centres of Excellence through talent and labour mobility and higher education services.

Under the ACE Project, grant awards are made to lead institutions to address specific regional development challenges primarily focusing on the following priority fields:

  1. Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  2. Health Sciences
  3. Agricultural Sciences

The first selection process produced 19 Centres of Excellence that were approved for the West and Central African sub-regions, out of which Nigerian Universities won 10.

The Universities from Nigeria that won the grants and their project titles are:

  • Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State (Africa Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, ACEGID);
  • African University of Science & Technology, Abuja (PAN African Materials Institute, PAMI);
  • Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta(Center for Agricultural Development & Sustainable Environment, CEADESE);
  • Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (Center of Excellence on Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology, ACENTDFB);
  • University of Jos, (Phytomedicine Research & Development, ACEPRD);
  • University of Benin (Center for Excellence in Reproductive Health and Innovation, CERHI)
  • University of Port-Harcourt (ACE Center for Oil Field Chemicals,CEFOR)
  • Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife (OAU Knowledge Park, OAK-Park)
  • Bayero University, Kano (African Centre of Excellence ACE in Dryland Agriculture, CDA)
  • Benue State University, Makurdi (Centre for Food Technology and Research, CEFTER)

Since the selection of the ACEs in 2013, several activities have taken place, including the following:

  • The establishment of the National Project Performance and Review Committee (NPPRC) of the ACE Project with all the ACEs and related ministries represented.
  • The official launching of the ACE project, the second PSC meeting as well as the first ACE project workshop for all the 19 ACEs in the West and Central African sub-regions were held in Abuja, Nigeria, May 2014.
  • All the ACEs met the project effectiveness conditions including the World Bank’s clearance of the Implementation and Procurement Plans, Procurement and Financial Management Manuals.
  • Several meetings and visits to the ACEs by the NUC, AAU and World Bank experts assisted the ACEs in perfecting their Implementation plans (IPs) which finally met the World Bank standards. All the Implementation Plans were approved by the World Bank.
  • The Regional Operations Manual of the ACE project was endorsed.
  • The performance contracts were signed between the NUC and the 10 ACEs
  • The Legal Opinions for the performance contracts were obtained
  • The approvals of the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly were obtained for the ACE project in Feb 2015
  • The Legal Opinion for the Financing Agreement was obtained and the Financing Agreement was signed between Nigeria and the World Bank in Feb 2015.
  • The ACEs also signed partnership agreements with various partners and collaborators.
  • The first disbursement of funds to the ACEs has been concluded having fulfilled the requirements for the Disbursement Linked Indicator #1 (DLI1).
  • The number of ACEs in the region has now been increased to 21, with another (Number 22) in the process. All the three new ACEs are in Cote d’Ivoire.
  • A post effectiveness workshop was organized for the 10 ACES and the ACE project secretariat by the NUC in collaboration with the World Bank in August 2015
  • The NUC has set up ACE Advisory & Project committees as well as the project secretariat
  • All the ACEs have commenced activities and currently running new and some existing programs
  • Our ACEs are already responding to the call, e.g. the response to the ebola outbreak in Lagos by the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) at the Redeemers University, and their latest research finding with their Harvard partners on the origin of lassa fever. Many more will come from the ACEs in the nearest future.
  • All the ACEs are now in full swing, working towards the Disbursement Linked Indicator #2 (DLI2)