Following the World Bank Award of a five-year (2019 – 20123) grant to UDS for the establishment of a West African Centre of Excellence in Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture (WACWISA), a meeting was organise on Monday, 1st April, 2019, to brief management on “The Processes in Ensuring Excellence in the Establishment of an African Center of Excellence” (ACE). The meeting which was chaired by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, was attended by the top management of the University as well as Principals, Deans and Directors of the University for Development Studies.
The main speaker at the meeting was Professor Gordon A. Awandare, Director of the West African Centre for Cell Biology and Infectious pathogens (WACCBIP) of the University of Ghana-Legon. Professor Awandare explained that the process of gaining the World Bank ACE grant was not an easy one, therefore UDS should consider the grant as an approval rating for the university’s competence in the field of Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture. He encouraged management to use the opportunity to demonstrate capability and best practice that would give the University a good image internationally and enhance its chances of attracting more grants to support the effective running of the university. He emphasized that the World Bank ACE grant is given to universities and research institutions through their governments to support the development of science and innovation, which includes the improvement of research infrastructure and the award of scholarships to national and regional students. He stated that the World Bank frowns on the use of the funds for the payment of salary top-ups, allowances and other expenses outside research and capacity building of staff who are on government payroll.
Professor Awandare called on the management of UDS to ensure the success of the Centre by investing in ultra-modern infrastructure for research and student training.
He also indicated the need for regional/international students as well as regional and international faculty to promote and ensure international standards in training and research. The need for international accreditation of study programmes was also emphasized as key to quality international training and as key to unlocking some Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs).
On his part, the Vice-Chancellor of UDS expressed the gratitude of the Management of the University to Professor Awandare for the insights which will guide the University in the project implementation and in ensuring and promotion of excellence. He observed that the project will not only improve the image of UDS but will also enhance the research capacity and output of its faculty members. He called for the support of all faculty and staff of the University to embrace the project and to support its successful implementation. He also encouraged faculty members to develop more of such research projects and apply for funding to setup more Centres of Excellence in the University and also place the University in the international map as a citadel of learning.
In a short remark, Prof. Felix K. Abagale, Director of the West African Center for Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture (WACWISA) urged all faculty to join in the implementation process. He indicated that, the World Bank funding should be seen as a foundation seed that has to be sown and carefully raised to bear more and sustainable fruits by attracting funding of cutting-edge research as well as graduate training. The Director noted that, WACWISA has a global Faculty of high level of expertise cutting across several disciplines with the main aim of promoting quality. He noted that activities at the Center is not going to be “business as usual” but insisted that quality of student training and research should be the hallmark of all. He mentioned that strong industry-academia linkages will be promoted under WACWISA as well as regionalization and internationalization of the Center’s study programmes and research.
The ACE initiative is a five-year (2019 to 2023) grant of Six Million, Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (US$6,400,000) by the World Bank for the establishment of the West African Centre for Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture at the Nyankpala Campus of the UDS.