Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: World Bank Gives Nigeria Grant of U.S.$80 Million for Universities

The World Bank has approved 80 million dollars grant for Nigeria to fund its 10 Centres of Excellence in universities.

The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, announced the approval in Abuja on Monday at a news conference on the meeting of World Bank with African Centres of Excellence (ACE).

Okojie also announced that Nigeria won 10 slots out of the 18 approved proposals for the establishment of ACEs.

He said the World Bank-funded ACE project was introduced to build capacity in competitively selected institutions to produce in-demand highly skilled labour and applied research.

He said it was also to facilitate rapid development within the African sub-region through the strengthening of ACEs by collaborations and partnership in sharing of talents, skilled labour and higher education services.

"Following the call for proposals on July 15, 2013, the NUC put in place a process to ensure that Nigerian universities win most of the ACEs.

"This process included workshops, mock evaluations, proposal development support, etc," he said.

The executive secretary said seven Nigerian universities were selected from 15 institutions that would benefit from the ACE grant.

The universities include Redeemers University, Mowe, Ogun, African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Others are; University of Jos, University of Benin; and University of Port Harcourt.

He said the universities were selected based on their proposals to address specific issues in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, health sciences; and agricultural sciences.

Okojie said because of the excellent proposals from Nigeria, three more universities, namely, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Bayero University, Kano and Benue State University, Makurdi, were later approved bringing the total to 10 out of 18 ACEs in Africa.

"In spite of the challenges facing the Nigerian education sector, our universities are doing well.

"This competition has indicated the potential of our universities to confront the challenges in their immediate environment and thereby contribute to the overall growth of the nation and the continent.

"The fact that we won 10 ACEs out of 18 ACEs indicates that with little more effort, our universities can be ranked amongst the best in the world," he said.

Speaking, the Lead Economist, Africa Education in the World Bank, Mr Andreas Blom, said Nigeria's win of 10 slots was a "clear demonstration of the potential capacity and talents the country possessed.

Blom noted that there were also many potential in Africa's economy and the World Bank would continue to build African capacity to solve Africa's problems. (NAN)

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