Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Stakeholders Convene in Morocco to Foster Partnerships with Moroccan Universities and the Private Sector

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Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) Stakeholders Convene in Morocco to Foster Partnerships with Moroccan Universities and the Private Sector

The World Bank Group, the Association of African Universities (AAU), and the French Development Agency (AFD), in close collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), and OCP Africa are currently hosting the 9th bi-annual ACE Impact Regional Workshop and Morocco ACE Impact Higher Education Partnership Forum at the Palm Plaza Resort in Marrakech, Morocco.  The event, which started from May 29 and runs through till June 2, 2023 marks the first time the ACE Impact project’s regional workshop is being hosted outside the eleven participating countries. Morocco, like other thriving African countries, harbors all ingredients for fostering inter-institutional and private-sector partnerships, crucial for advancing collaborative research development and innovation. “Given the successes of the ACE Impact project in contributing to research, innovations, and improving the quality of education in the sub-region, it has become imminent to forge sustainable partnerships with institutions and the private sector in other regions of the continent, particularly in North Africa, for concerted knowledge transfer and peer learning.”- Prof. Olusola B. Oyewole, AAU Secretary-General.

Several universities in Morocco have been instrumental in aligning technological innovations with transformative research to drive national development. The UM6P is a paradigm of Moroccan institutions that have taken impressive strides in the priority areas of Agriculture, Renewable Energy, Mining, and Digital Technology and Innovation. The university offers an interdisciplinary ecosystem of scientific research, entrepreneurship, and innovation aimed at advancing knowledge and promoting the emergence of resilient businesses across the globe. Hosting the workshop in Morocco provides a unique opportunity for cross-learning and partnership development with UM6P, as well as other Moroccan universities and Morocco’s private sector markets. “The strategy of decompartmentalizing knowledge and expertise must be taken beyond the UM6P ecosystem to give impetus to a common African ambition. As an institution driven by the determination to improve the impact of research and training on the development of our continent, we adhere to the program’s vision and express our willingness to make our knowledge and academic competencies available to the ACE Impact centers.“- Mr. Hicham El Habti, President of UM6P.

The event has brought together the project government representatives from the eleven participating African countries, the leaders of the fifty-three Centers of Excellence, subject matter experts, experts in research commercialization among other priority fields, key higher education stakeholders, policy think tanks and industry players. OCP Africa is a principal industry partner for the Higher Education Partnership Forum. At OCP Africa, we’re dedicated to supporting R&D in agriculture across Africa through a systematic approach integrating research and education. We’re excited to explore collaboration opportunities with ACEs at the Forum, driving sustainable solutions ‘In Africa, by Africa.’ With 20 ongoing R&D projects and partnerships with a dozen universities continent-wide, we aim to make a transformative impact.” – Dr Mohamed Anouar Jamali, CEO of OCP Africa.

The first two days (May 29 & 30) are focusing on ACE Impact implementation sessions, whereas the remaining days (May 31 – June 2) will be dedicated to fostering cross-country partnerships and networks.

The workshop acts as one of many preparatory events, “On the Road to Marrakech,” building the path to the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings to be held in Marrakech from October 9-15, 2023. High-quality human capital and scientific research can act as catalysts for diversifying economic output and accelerating economic growth. Higher Education Institutions and their participation in international research partnerships and networks can play a key role in addressing national development challenges and promoting research quality, commercialization, and technology transfer. The Morocco ACE Impact Higher Education Partnership Forum will contribute towards fostering such cross-country partnerships and networks between the African Centers of Excellence and Moroccan universities and private sector stakeholders for joint research, co-creation of programs, and innovation opportunities.” Jesko Hentschel, Country Director for the Maghreb and Malta at the World Bank.

Virtual participation is available for stakeholders who wish to participate online. The opening and closing sessions of the workshop will be held on May 31 and June 2, respectively, at 9:00 GMT +1, and members of the press are cordially invited to take part in the event. Opening the sessions will be given by key partners such as the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research, and Innovation in Morocco, represented by the Director of Cooperation and Partnerships, Mrs. Sanaa Zebakh (representing the Secretary General of the Ministry, M. Mohamed Khalfaoui) and Mr. Jesko Hentschel, Country Director for the Maghreb and Malta at the World Bank.

Please register here to participate.

For further information, contact

Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation:


The World Bank:

OCP Africa:

The AAU:

Background Information

The Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) is a World Bank initiative in collaboration with governments of participating countries to support higher education institutions specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Agriculture, Health, Environment and Social Science/Applied Science and Education. It is the first World Bank project aimed at building the capacities of higher education institutions in Africa through the promotion of regional specialization among participating universities in areas that address specific common regional development challenges. It further aims to strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver high-quality training and applied research, as well as meet the demand for skills required for Africa’s development. The first phase (ACE I) was launched in 2014 with 22 Centers of Excellence in Nine (9) West and Central African countries while the second phase (ACE II) was launched in East and Southern Africa with 24 centers. Based on the initial successes, the World Bank, and the French Development Agency (AFD) in collaboration with the African governments, launched the ACE Impact Project in 2019 to further strengthen post-graduate training and applied research in existing fields and support new fields that are essential for Africa’s economic growth. Under the ACE Impact, there are 53 Centers specializing in the broad thematic areas of STEM, agriculture, health, environment and social/applied science and education. For more information on the ACE Impact Project, visit

About the Organizers

 Ministry of Higher Education, Morocco: The Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Professional Training is a government ministry in Morocco that is responsible for overseeing and regulating higher education in the country. The ministry plays a crucial role in shaping the future of education in Morocco by developing policies and strategies that promote academic excellence, scientific research, and innovation. One of the primary functions of the ministry is to ensure that higher education institutions in Morocco are providing quality education to students. The ministry sets standards for academic programs, faculty qualifications, and research activities and monitors compliance with these standards through regular evaluations and inspections. It also works closely with universities and other institutions to develop curricula that are relevant to the needs of the job market and the country’s economic development.

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P): The Mohammed VI Polytechnic University is an institution oriented towards applied research and innovation. Focused on Africa, it aims to place itself among the world-renowned universities in these fields. More than a classic academic institution, the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University is a platform for experimentation and a breeding ground for opportunities that students like to call quite rightly “The school of life”.

The OCP Africa: Created in 2016, OCP Africa, a subsidiary of the OCP Group, aims to contribute to the development of integrated agricultural ecosystems in Africa.

OCP Africa works hand in hand with farmers to help grow the agricultural potential of the African continent through solutions adapted to local conditions and to the needs of soils and crops. In partnership with a network of partners, including governments, non-profit organizations, and companies, OCP Africa works continuously to put all the necessary conditions for the benefit of farmers.

OCP Africa has local offices in many African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Benin, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Rwanda) and is present on the ground in many others. It is also helping to secure the production of competitive fertilizers near major agricultural regions, to strengthen its logistical capacities and to develop new local distribution networks. Learn more:

 Association of African Universities (AAU): The Association of African Universities is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization created by African Universities to promote cooperation among them on the one hand, and between them and the international academic community on the other. Created in 1967, the AAU is the Voice of Higher Education in Africa. AAU aims to improve the quality of African Higher Education and to strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development by supporting the core functions of Higher Education Institutions and facilitating critical reflection and consensus building on issues affecting Higher Education in Africa. The AAU is the Regional Facilitating Unit of the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact project.

World Bank Group: The World Bank Group is a multilateral development institution that works to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity. Its subsidiary IDA (International Development Association) finances the Africa Centers of Excellence series of projects. The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 74 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has provided $458 billion to 114 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $29 billion over the last three years (FY19-FY21), with about 70 percent going to Africa. Learn more:

French Development Agency (AFD): For more than 75 years, the French Development Agency (AFD) has been fighting global poverty by supporting policies and investments that benefit the poorest populations. Strengthening the social link between individuals, groups, and territories are now at the heart of its actions in education, health, employment, urban planning, climate, and biodiversity. The French Development Agency (AFD) is the ACE Impact project co-financier. Learn more:


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