World Bank proposes African centres of excellence
By Temitope Mustapha, Abuja
The World Bank is set to establish centres of excellence in African universities to promote education in the region.
The Centre would be a foundation of excellence; attract talents (faculty and students), governance, autonomy and accountability.
At a consultative meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the World Bank said the need for such Centres are necessitated by strong economic growth in the extractive industries, energy, water, environment, climate change and infrastructure.
The World Bank representative, Mr Andreas Iboma said the Bank embarked on the African Centres of Excellence Project because Africa is a continent on the move with high growth rate, skills gap and need for professional human capital.
Science had become so sophisticated that everybody cannot do everything. There is therefore the need to concentrate on areas of competences, which can be shared,” he said.
Welcoming participants to discuss the modalities for the Project, the Executive Secretary of the National University Commission, NUC, Professor Julius A. Okojie, said the Centres of Excellence must be relevant to the needs of the country, if their objectives are to be achieved.
“The timing was right, the opportunity would be used to address the critical challenges facing the Africa region such as food security, availability of portable water, affordable housing, security and technology,” Professor Okojie said.
The Executive Secretary said for an institution to qualify for such a Centre, it must have existed for some years, with good learning facilities and quality research output.
“An institution hosting a Centre of Excellence must have the relevant human and material resources required to sustain it,” Professor Okojie explained.
He said all Nigerian universities should be given equal opportunity to compete, irrespective of whether they are public or private, in order to promote merit and make the process more competitive.
Professor Okojie tasked the 21 universities, present at the meeting to remain focused and provide what it takes to sustain the centres.
Nigeria is the first country the World Bank is visiting out of the seven selected countries.