The Director of the West African Centre for Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture (WACWISA) of the University for Development Studies (UDS), Tamale, Ghana, Prof. Felix K. Abagale, has met the Chairman of the Board, President and Director General of the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD-France) Ms. Valérie Verdier at the IRD headquarters in Marseille, France. The meeting was organised at the side lines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Congress 2020 which is being held from 3 to 11 September 2021 in Marseille, France. It was at the instance of the Chairman of the Board, President and Director General of the IRD jointly with other members of the ACE Partner Projects i.e. the Water Network and Mining Sector Network.
The ACE-Partner Project aims at strengthening thematic training and research networks in West Africa through the African Centres of Excellence for Development Impact. It aims to strengthen training and research collaborations between the ACEs on common themes, build sustainable networks among the core ACEs by gradually exposing their mandate and activities to peripheral actors (emerging centres, faculties of universities in the region, research organizations, the private sector, NGOs, etc.).
In her remarks, Ms. Valérie Verdier indicated that the Networks will be supported to define and implement a common scientific strategy within each network, to set up young research teams through the funding of research projects linked to a call for projects launched within the network, to deploy training courses adapted to the needs of scientific collectives to increase the skills of researchers.
She also mentioned that the Networks will be supported to create joint training programmes (masters, schools and doctoral colleges) for the strengthening of skills that are internal to the Centres and open to socio-economic partners, to foster bridges between training and research through several schemes (creation of short and long inter-ACE training cycles on a regional scale, thematic workshops and conferences, etc.). A mobility programme (theses, masters and academic and administrative staff) will be set up at network level.
The IRD Chief indicated that since she took over as the Director General of IRD for over a year, her focus has been to ensure a blend of francophone and anglophone systems of scientific approaches to solving societal problems. She noted the need to visit the ACE partner networks to appreciate their effort and activities and also help facilitate and enhance collaboration between north-south partners especially France and the ACE-Networks.
The Program Manager of the ACE Partner Project Mr. Gregory Giraud, noted that the networks under the ACE Partner Project were: Sustainable Water Management with five (5) partners, Sustainable Mining Network with four (4) partners, Digital Science and Technology with six (6) partners and West African Network for Infectious Disease ACE (WANIDA) with seven (7) partners.
The Director of WACWISA, Prof. Felix K. Abagale intimated that training and research in the areas of water resources management, climate change, biodiversity management and conservation were core to the Net-Water team. This he noted was as a result of the need for enhanced and efficient water resource utilisation, management and conservation collaboration with the other ACE Partner Networks and as well as partners outside the networks.
He also appreciated the role of the World Bank, Association of African Universities (AAU), the African Governments in the process of ACE Impact for Development especially in establishing and enhancing north-south collaboration in training and the conduct of cutting-edge research to propel industrial growth as well as the generation of sustainable solutions for society. He emphasized that student mobility and resourcing for the training needs of institutions as well as cross-fertilisation of ideas was very important.
The ACE Partner project is part of the financing program of the World Bank and French Development Agency (AFD). It is financed to the tune of €6M by AFD and €1M by IRD over 4 years (2020 to 2024).