Following the successful Higher Education Fair and the PSC meeting, all participants gathered at the Ninth ACE Project Workshop, which opened with traditional dances by the Debourisi ethinic group. It was another opportunity to celebrate about 1,600 PhD and 6,000 Masters students who have so far enrolled in various programmes in the 22 Centres, with 12 of the programmes attaining international accreditation.
In his welcome remarks, Director General of 2iE, Professor Mady Koanda said it was a great honour to host the workshop. He thanked the government of Burkina Faso for allowing the University to host the event and facilitate what he described as “this big show of knowledge.” Professor Koanda said the Project was an important opportunity given to the Universities to compete with international universities. He prayed for a successful workshop and a happy stay in the city of Ouagadougou.
The World Bank (WB) Co-Task Team Leader, Ms. Himdat Bayusuf highlighted the achievements of the project in the last three and a half years. She said leveraging partnerships, strong focus on post graduate training, securing African academia in the global stage, international accreditation and research addressing particular needs of the region had been the major accomplishments of the Project, adding that the Workshop would focus on sustainability of the Centres. She thanked the governments for their ownership of the Project and thanked the organisers of the Workshop for a well-planned event.
In his welcome remarks, the Executive Secretary of AAU, Professor Etienne Ehile thanked the government for 9i continued commitment to the project. He said the workshop was an opportunity to identify challenges and seek solutions to avoid any lagging in the project. Prof. Ehile said the discussions should be frank and open as it has been in previous workshops.
World Bank’s Country Manager for Burkina Faso, Mr. Cheick F. Kante, in an opening address, noted that the ACE Project was developing necessary technologies to address development challenges. African countries must, therefore, share resources and collaborate to build an academic robust pool to solve our combined problems.
Burkina Faso’s Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, Prof. Alkassoum Maiga, who declared the Workshop open, said Africa needed a new paradigm shift to solve her general problems by ensuring that her Universities can train students on an international platform, to produce highly skilled graduates. He thanked the World Bank and AAU for a brilliant Project and commended the 22 ACEs for a vibrant and educational fair. Prof. Maiga expressed hope that the ACE Impact Project would benefit many more universities in the region.
Discussions at the plenary sessions focussed the achievements of the Centres, their sustainability beyond World Bank’s support, promotion of university – industry linkages and international accreditation, among others.