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Published On: Thu, Apr 17th, 2014

World Bank earmarks $150m to finance 19 University education centres in Africa

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  • Nigeria gets $70m

By Etuka Sunday

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors yesterday announced the approval US$150 million to finance 19 university-based Centers of Excellence in seven countries in West and Central Africa.

The Global Bank said these competitively selected centers would receive funding for advanced specialized studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related disciplines, as

well as in agriculture and health.

The project would be financed through IDA credits to the governments of Nigeria (US$70 million), Ghana (US$24 million), Senegal (US$16 million), Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Togo (US$8 million

each).. The Gambia will also receive a US $2 million credit and a US$1 million grant to provide higher education, including short-term training, to students, faculty and civil servants through the 19 ACEs.

Speaking, the World Bank Vice-President for Africa, Makhtar Diop said, “I am excited to support these pioneering centers of excellence because they will be another step in building and nurturing specialized world-class higher education institutions on the continent, I can think of no better way to grow African economies, create jobs, and support research in Africa, than educating young graduates with expertise in high-demand areas such as chemical engineering, crop science, and the control of infectious diseases.” Also speaking, the World Bank Education Manager for West & Central Africa, Peter Materu said, “Students in West and Central Africa urgently need high-quality science and technology programs to compete in their own regional job market as well as the global economy, but not a single university from this part of Africa features in rankings of the world’s top 500 universities, the African Centers of Excellence project is a win-win initiative—it will help these young people achieve their aspirations without leaving Africa, and it will help firms to find advanced skills and knowledge domestically and to

compete more effectively in international markets.”

The continent faces a serious shortage of skilled workers in fast-growing sectors such as extractive industries, energy, water, and infrastructure, as well as in the fields of health and telecommunications. The result of having too few skilled workers in Africa’s extractive industries is that oil and minerals are extracted in Africa but processed elsewhere in the world, to the detriment of African industries and jobs. Africa also suffers from a shortage of trained health workers who can provide high quality maternal health services. This may partially explain why Africa’s maternal mortality rate has remained so tragically high at 500 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

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