Go back

World Bank launches ACE for Impact scheme

Twelve West and Central African nations have until the end of September to submit applications to create centres of research and training excellence under a World Bank loan scheme.

The African Centres of Excellence for Development Impact—ACE Impact for short—is the third large round of the scheme, which offers low-interest loans to African governments.

The call for proposals under ACE Impact for projects to develop or create research and training centres in West and Central Africa was published on 31 August by the Ghana-based Association of African Universities which administers the scheme.

More on ACE Impact
World Bank gears up for third excellence round

Two more calls will follow—one due in October targeting regional partnerships for emerging centres and regional scholarships, the other for regional project facilitation, and monitoring and evaluation.

In May this year Research Africa reported that the World Bank was preparing to launch a third ACE scheme round worth US$280 million in low-interest loans to African governments to build capacity in research and training.

Together with the first and second round of the scheme, launched in 2014 and 2016 respectively, this last instalment brings the total amount of loans given out under the scheme to well over US$500m. Centres funded under the scheme train postgraduate students, offer short-term courses and carry out research.

The first round, with US$165m worth of loans, targeted Central and West Africa, creating 22 centres in nine countries. The second, worth US$148m, created 24 centres in eight countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. The third round is open to countries that participated in the first round, plus Niger, Djibouti and Guinea.

The third round

The third ACE round will differ slightly from rounds one and two by placing added emphasis on the real-world development impact of centres funded under the scheme. Proposals should target one of the following development challenges:

  • coastal degradation
  • digital development
  • education training and leadership
  • nursing
  • power
  • public procurement
  • public policy and quantitative skills
  • social risk management
  • transport
  • urban design

The governments of participating countries have capped the number of proposals they can fund on their soil. Nigeria and Ghana have the highest caps, with a maximum 55 and 30 proposals to be funded respectively. Burkina Faso expects to fund up to 22 proposals. All the remaining countries will accept a maximum of 10 proposals.

Each country also has a set maximum loan amount, ranging from a handful of million US dollars to dozens. For more information, click on the link to the right of this article.

Proposals have to be submitted to the government officials in charge of managing the scheme in each country. The officials will then select which proposals to submit to the ACE for Impact regional facilitation unit hosted by the AAU. The deadline for proposals to reach this stage is 28 September.

Speaking to Research Africa in May, World Bank ACE coordinator Andreas Blom said the third round was likely to be the scheme’s last. No ACE Impact targeting East and Southern Africa was in the works, he said.