The World Bank has released the first tranche of disbursement totaling N1.4 billion to 10 Nigerian universities, recently listed among African Centres of Excellence (ACE).
Stakeholders in the Nigerian university system are expected to deploy the ACE project and its resources to invariably shore up the ranking of Nigerian universities globally.
The project would particularly centre on research in the fields of agriculture, health, as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Recall that ACE was instituted in 2013 and launched in 2014 by the governments of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Republic of Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo and Senegal to promote regional specialisation among universities in the participating countries to address common regional development challenges.
Out of 19 slots for Africa, Nigerian universities won 10 slots giving it an edge over others. The benefiting universities are Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta as Centre for Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment; Bayero University, Kano as Centre for Dryland Agriculture and Benue State University as Centre for Food Technology and Research.
Others include Redeemer’s University as Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases; University of Jos as Centre for Phytomedicine Research and Development; and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, as Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology.
University of Benin is a centre for Reproductive Health and Innovation; African University of Science and Technology, Centre for Materials; University of Port Harcourt, Centre for Oil Field Chemicals and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) as Centre for Science, Technology and Knowledge.
At the ACE project post-effectiveness workshop in Abuja on Monday, Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, Julius Okojie, cautioned the benefiting institutions against compromising the objectives of the scheme.
Okojie said the success of the ACE project holds the prospect of favourable global ranking for Nigerian universities as such we could not afford to toy with the opportunity.