Africa Centres of Excellence urged to exploit new funding sources

Temitope Mustapha, Abuja

The Federal Government has tasked 10 Africa Centres of Excellence in Nigeria to explore and exploit new sources of funding to finance the search for excellence.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu said this in Abuja while declaring open the Workshop on enhancement and sustainability for the African Centres of Excellence in Nigeria.

The Minister who charged Universities to take ownership of the Centres beyond the support from the World Bank urged the Centres to work with various funding agencies such as Tertiary Education trust fund.

“The ability to explore and exploit new sources of funding to finance the search for excellence must now be accepted as an integral part of this very excellence, we must pursue excellence, working along with the various funding agencies ,such as tertiary education trust fund ,petroleum technology development fund,universal service provision fund and the rest of them”

Adamu added that the 10 African Centres of Excellence has boosted the image of the state of higher education in Africa as well as boosted the image of Nigeria as a country in Africa.

He stated that the priority of the Federal government in the centres is excellence, stressing that the success of the African Centres of Excellence in Africa depends on the success of each centre in Nigeria.

Programme Sustainability

Speaking on the sustainability of the programme, the Minister said that the Federal government will continue to work hard to ensure the sustainability of the project beyond its initial life cycle which is 2018.

“ACE projects, a regional higher education project for West and Central Africa with support from the World Bank ends in 2018, already about two years of its cycle have elapsed and the question is on sustenance, needless to add that the federal government through the ministry of education will continue to work hard to ensure it sustainability”

He charged stakeholders in the Tertiary Education sub sector to take advantage of the centres in Nigeria to turn Nigeria Universities around.

“May I seize the opportunity to call on all to take advantage of this opportunity to turn our university system around particularly in the areas of research”

“I would like to remind the centres of the responsibilities placed on their shoulders to look forward to proffer solutions to Nigeria`s and by extension Africa`s numerous challenges.

Quality Research

Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu implored the African Centers of Excellence to fully engage ICT towards the improvement of quality research adding that ICT is a veritable tool for economic growth.

Shittu tasked the Centres to turn out qualified Manpower for both the private sectors and the public sector to meet current needs of the society.

The Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, Professor Julius Okojie said that the objective of the workshop is to strengthen capacity to deliver on the ACE projects and to also discuss implementation arrangements for Nigerian centres.

World Bank Support

Okojie also said that the sum of over 70 million U.S dollars was provided by the World Bank to support 10 Centers in Nigeria, he added that the fund is for capacity building and conduct of adequate research.

“This workshop was organised to strengthen capacity for ACE centres in Nigeria to achieve the objective of ACE since capacity building is critical to growth of the sector”

According to the NUC Boss, the ACE projects were instituted in West and Central Africa nations to address common major challenges facing the region as majorly captured in the United Nation`s 17 Sustainable development goals.

“The ACE centres will be focal on addressing major challenges in the 17SDGs”

The Secretary General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Professor Micheal Faborode said the ACE project is following the pathway for the emergence of World class universities helping countries such as Nigeria to identify some number of elite universities that can be further developed, facilitate and assist to get necessary exposure.

The 10 African Centres of Excellence in Nigeria was formally declared active in May 2015.

The 10 Centres in Nigeria are: AUST in Nigeria, OAU ife, Redeemer’s University, ABU, UniJos, UniBen, BUK, Benue state university markurdu, Federal university of technology Abeokuta.