World Bank approves Euro 13.4 million to the Republic of Côte D’ivoire for additional financing for the ACE Project

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The World Bank approves additional credit of Euro 13.4 million (US$15million equivalent) to the Republic of Côte D’ivoire as additional financing for the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project

The Additional Financing for Cote d’Ivoire has been approved by the World Bank to support three competitively selected additional Africa Centers of Excellence institutions from Cote d’Ivoire namely:

  1. Université Félix Houphouët Boigny (UFHB) specialising in Climate Change;
  2. Ecole Nationale Superieure de Statistique et D’economie Appliquee (ENSEA) specialising in statistics; and
  3. Institut National Polytechnique Felix Houphouët-Boigny (INP-HB) specialising in mining

This brings the total number of Africa Centers of Excellence (ACEs) to 22 in West and Central Africa. The expected start date of implementation is 1st December 2015 and the expected closing date is 31st December 2019 for the Cote d’Ivoire ACEs.

The amount of 13.4 million Euros (US$15 million equivalent) was sourced from the regional and national International Development Association (IDA) funding for the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project. Funding was not made available for Côte d’Ivoire to join the ACE Project from the onset, due to the post electoral crisis in 2011 and the necessary focus of IDA-emergency funds to the post-crises stabilization.

Table 1. Selected Côte d’Ivoire Centers and Financing (in US$ million)

Lead Institution Sector Total IDA National IDA Regional IDA
École national supérieure de statistique et d’économie appliquée (ENSEA) Statistics 3 1 2
Université Félix Houphouët Boigny (UFHB) STEM-Climate Change 5 1.67 3.33
Institut National Polytechnique Houphouët Boigny (INP-HB) STEM – Mining and Environment 5 5 0
Unallocated 2 1.33 0.67
Total 15 9 6

 The Selection Process

The merit-based competitive selection process used in the initial round of the ACE Project was maintained for the selection of the Centers of Excellence in Côte d’Ivoire. This process entailed: (i) an open call for proposals to public and private institutions; (ii) submission of Center of Excellence proposals through the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to the regional facilitation unit (RFU) for the project at the Association of African Universities (AAU) (seven proposals were received); and (iii) a systematic and detailed evaluation of proposals by independent and international experts according to pre-defined criteria through a desk review and a site and leadership assessment. Eighty percent of reviewers also served as reviewers for the first round of ACEs in this project. The additional reviewers were included in the process to accommodate the additional training sectors and consisted of three different and discrete sets of assessments, meaning that each proposal was reviewed and scored by at least five independent evaluators. All three centers met the regional minimum threshold that the previously selected centers were assessed on.

Why the Côte d’Ivoire ACEs are important

The Côte d’Ivoire centers will address a crucial need for skills in these priority areas not supported under the parent project due to initial low quality proposals in these areas. The Additional Financing will support the scaling up of successful activities funded under the original project through the addition of the three higher education centers of excellence in Côte d’Ivoire focusing on provision of skills for adaptation to climate change, statistics, and mining.

The proposed Additional Financing will retain the original project development objective to support the recipients to promote regional specialization among participating universities in areas that address regional challenges and strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver quality training and applied research. Côte d’Ivoire ACEs will learn from the 19 ACEs – The Financial Management, disbursement, and procurement arrangement follow the same approach and principles that have been applied to the existing 19 centers receiving support under the ACE Project. These project arrangements have worked well so far in the parent project.

Lessons learnt so far from the phase 1 of the ACE Project

The Additional Financing will take into account the following lessons learned from phase I of the ACE Project which have underscored the importance of:

  1. public-private partnerships (PPPs) through more upstream involvement of companies and sector stakeholders in the projects;
  2. enhancing short-term training of industry professionals and specialized short-term post-secondary education (technician level),
  3. promoting governance and faculty motivation;
  4. ensuring skills promoted are in line with regional labor market demand and other regional factors; and
  5. ensuring earlier and stronger integration of regional partners into the African Centers of Excellence planned under the ACE Project.

The original project was financed by a combination of credits and grants totaling SDR 97.5 million (US$150 million equivalent) to the Republics of Gambia, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and the Federal Republic of Nigeria and was approved on April 15, 2014. The ACE Project is progressing satisfactorily towards achievement of its project development objective. To date, 3,500 new students have already been enrolled in the Project-supported African Centers of Excellence. All nine financing agreements between the Bank and Client are now effective, and as of August 1, 2015 US$12.31 million (13 percent of total grant funding) has been disbursed under the Project. The maximum grant awarded to each Africa Center of Excellence is US$8 million.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research is the entity in the Government of Côte d’Ivoire tasked with overall responsibility for implementation of the Additional Financing, and will primarily discharge its responsibility through its leadership of the National Review Committee. Each university will establish and manage their own Center of Excellence under a well-defined institutional structure.

One thought on “World Bank approves Euro 13.4 million to the Republic of Côte D’ivoire for additional financing for the ACE Project

    Dr Fletcher M Phiri said:
    October 9, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Its great we have money now but how are we going to use it will be the most important question of which its answer will make a difference to the quality of higher education in Africa. Lets hope, it will be used for what it is intended to so that specific outcomes will be achieved

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