The bid by Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo to produce in-demand highly and applied research, as well as facilitate rapid development within the African sub-region through the Africa Center of Excellence (ACE) initiative through sharing of talents, skilled labour and higher education services, is a step in the right direction. Initiated in 2013, the idea behind the ACE is noble and should be taken a notch higher to not only attract investment but also break the jinx that has seen African institutions of higher learning trail behind their global counterparts in spearheading research, innovations and development.
According to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014 which assesses universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook using 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators, only two universities from South Africa featured in its 500 university ranking list. Pundits have considered it a paradox that high academic qualifications have neither enabled most African intellectuals to improve their living standards nor solve societal challenges in their respective environments. Efforts like ACE could change this narrative.