Uganda has been selected among eight Eastern and Southern African Countries to benefit from the $140m (Shs469b) credit of the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group.
According to a communiqué issued early this week from the World Bank, this line of credit will be channeled through the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence Project (ACE II) of participating countries – of mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
“The objective of the ACE II project is to strengthen selected Eastern and Southern Africa higher education institutions to deliver quality postgraduate education and build collaborative research capacity in the regional priority areas,” the communiqué noted.
The selected ACEs are expected to address specific development challenges facing the region through graduate training in Master’s, PhD, and short-term courses and applied research in the form of partnerships and collaborations with other institutions and the private sector.
A total of 24 Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) will each be funded up to $6m (Shs20b) over the project period of five years.
It is envisaged that at the end of the project the centres will have developed sufficient capacity to become sustainable regional hubs for training and research in their specialised fields, capable of leading efforts to address priority development challenges and improve lives in the region.
The ACE II project is expected to close in October 2021.
The ACEs were selected through an open, objective, transparent and merit-based competitive process based on the following criteria like proposal writing that addressed a specific challenge in one of the five priority areas in the region—industry, agriculture, health, education and applied statistics.
Highest quality proposal, hosting institution had evident capacity, selection that provided for geographical balance and the hosting country had International Development Association (IDA) funding eligibility and availability.
According to WB, all these ACEs are expected to perform the following tasks:
• Build institutional capacity to provide quality post-graduate education with relevance to the labour market.
• Build institutional capacity to conduct high quality applied research, relevant to addressing a key development challenge/priority.
• Develop and enhance partnerships with other academic institutions (national, regional and international) to pursue academic excellence.
• Enhance and develop partnerships with industry and the private sector to generate greater impact.
• Improve governance and management of the institution and set up a role model for other higher education institutions.
• Deliver outreach, and create an impact to society by delivering excellent teaching and producing high quality applied research.
According to the WB, over the project duration of five years collectively these ACEs are expected to enroll more than 3,500 graduate students in the regional development priority areas.
“Out of which more than 700 will be PhD students and more than 1,000 will be female students,” the statement says.
The ACEs are expected to publish almost 1,500 journal articles, launch more than 300 research collaborations with the private sector and other institutions, and generate almost $30m (Shs100b) in external revenue.
The Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), a coordinating higher education institution of the East African Community, was selected by the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) of the ACE II project as the Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU).
The four ACEs from Uganda to benefit from this programme are:
• Makerere University Centre for Crop Improvement (MaCCI)
• Centre of Materials, Product Development & Nanotechnology (Mapronano)-Makerere University
• African Centre for Agro-ecology & Livelihood Systems (Acalise) - Uganda Martyrs University
• Pharm-Biotechnology & Traditional Medicine Center (Pharmtac) - Mbarara University of Science & Technology