Kampala, July 26, 2022 – The Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and the World Bank have signed a grant agreement totaling US$10 million as additional financing (AF) to the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence project (ACE II). The grant is part of US$70 million approved by the World Bank Board of Directors on June 21, 2022 as additional financing to the Republic of Malawi and the Republic of Mozambique. The ACE II AF will finance agriculture Africa Centers of Excellence in Malawi and Mozambique to strengthen agriculture higher education and research in the region. The ACE II AF is proposed to scale-up the successful Africa Centers of Excellence (ACE) model to further build the region’s capacity in providing high quality training and applied research in the field of agriculture. ACE II AF will strengthen six competitively selected Centers of Excellence, five (5) in Malawi and one (1) in Mozambique with both countries receiving US$30 million each.
The main objective of the ACE II AF is to strengthen linkages between universities in the participating countries and regional agricultural sector needs through strengthening:
(i) agri-food related education and training enhanced with trans-disciplinary approaches and applied research;
(ii) (ii) university linkages to the regional agricultural sector – its priorities, needs and stakeholders; and
(iii) (iii) university partnership with private and public entities related to agri-food both within and outside the region.
The ACE II AF will focus on the agriculture sector given the high demand from participating countries for further need to build technical capacity in key thematic areas. It aims to build a strong foundation for generating skills, knowledge, practices and enterprises which, in the longer term, can contribute to increased agriculture productivity and food security across the continent.
Six key regional gap areas have been identified and prioritized for this project:
(i) agribusiness and entrepreneurship;
(ii) agri-food systems and nutrition;
(iii) agricultural policy analysis;
(iv) agricultural risk management and climate change;
(v) rural innovations and agricultural extension; and
(vi) statistical analysis, forecast and data management.
These themes were selected based on extensive consultations with stakeholders including policymakers, academicians, civil society and the private sector. These themes also respond to the climate and disaster risk of Malawi and Mozambique.
The parent project, ACE II, due to close on December 31, 2023 supports the governments of eight participating countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to deliver quality post-graduate education and build collaborative research capacity in five regional priority areas namely– industry, agriculture, health, education and applied statistics. Each of the 24 competitively selected Centers of Excellence is addressing a specific challenge in one of the five priority areas in the region. The ACE II Project’s higher-level objective is to meet the labour market demands for skills within specific areas where there are skill shortages. Since 2016, ACE II has made significant contributions to building the region’s capacity in those priority economic sectors.
As the Regional Facilitation Unit, the IUCEA has built adequate systems through the implementation of the parent project over the last five years to effectively support implementation, monitor performance and verify results. IUCEA will continue to oversee the administration, coordination, monitoring and evaluation, communication and visibility of both the ACE II and the new ACEs under ACE II AF in the participating countries. IUCEA will support all the ACEs to ensure fiduciary and safeguards compliance and it will continue to play this role for the new ACEs selected under the AF including training for its Project Implementation Teams on operational matters and coordinating technical support to the ACEs.
IUCEA is an institution of the East African Community (EAC) responsible for higher education and research.
We take this opportunity to thank the World Bank and congratulate the governments of the Republic of Malawi and Mozambique for committing US$60m to finance agriculture higher education. The project will expand the pool of higher skilled workers in agriculture fields and build human resource capacity to undertake applied research which is needed to increase agriculture productivity and food security for the continent.
The closing date for ACE AF is December 31st, 2025.