Makerere University has successfully secured a grant worth USD12 million from World Bank to run two African Centres of Excellence. Estimated to cost USD 6million each, the Africa Centre of Excellence in Material Product Development and Nanotechnology (MAPRONANO) and Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) will be geared towards supporting capacity building and research development at this great institution.
During the monthly media briefing held on Monday 30th October 2017, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said that the centres shall support high quality research and innovation at the University with the aim of finding pertinent solutions to challenges that affect the African continent.
“We are not only enhancing our competitiveness in Africa and the world, but addressing pertinent issues in Africa. Food security is becoming an issue to look at if we are to drive the continent out of poverty. We need to also think about how we can save the continent from the epidemics that break out due to poor hygiene and contaminated water,” said the Vice Chancellor.
Africa’s Centres for Excellence Grant is part of a larger World Bank initiative that supports the development of Centres of Excellences for higher education in the African Region. Its purpose is to promote regional specialisation among participating universities in the areas that address particular challenges in regional development, and strengthen the capacity of these universities to deliver high quality training and applied research.
The project focuses on meeting the demand of skills required for the Africa’s development in areas such agriculture, energy, extractive industries, while strengthening the innovative capacity of the best African institution for Higher education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and other relevant disciplines.
This period World Bank released USD148million towards the creation 46 Centres of Excellence across the African Continent. Twenty two of these Centres of Excellence will be established in West Africa while twenty four will be established in Central and East Africa focusing on 16 countries and ten priority sectors.
Speaking to journalists on Monday 30th October 2017, Dr. Michael Lubwama, a Lecturer at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) said that the establishment of the Africa Centre of Excellence in Material Product Development and Nanotechnology (MAPRONANO ACE) at Makerere University will strengthen research in thematic areas of materials science and engineering, nanotechnology and Nano medicine and also develop human resource capacity in applied science and engineering disciplines.
“The centre is supported by the World Bank to the tune of USD6million for the period of 5 years. This money will be used to furnish laboratories as well as offer Masters and PhD scholarships. The Centre will also offer highly specialised short courses in in welding technology, health safety engineering, oil & gas, monoclonal and nanobodies generation, bioinformatics and next generation sequencing techniques,” he said.
On the other hand, the Director, Makerere University Regional Centre of Excellence in Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) Dr. Richard Edema said that the centre is set to provide the nations of Eastern and Southern Africa with industry-ready plant breeders who are equipped to use cutting edge science to develop and deliver new varieties of food crops.
“These breeders are urgently needed in order to improve the food security, nutrition and rural incomes and to address poverty and economic development throughout the region,” Dr. Edema said.
MaRCCI is an expansion of current activities under Makerere University’s Regional Graduate Programme in Plant Breeding. The main goals will be to strengthen the programme’s PhD in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, the MSc in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems, applied research in various crops, and outreach activities.
The Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaCCRI) and the Africa Centre of Excellence in Material Product Development and Nanotechnology (MAPRONANO ACE) and will be launched on 13th and 16th November 2017 respectively.