The Board of Executive Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has approved African Development Fund (ADF) grant of US $ 45 million to support the creation of a Pan African University (PAU).
The new university that will be made up of five Pan African Institutes if created will focus mainly on science, technology and innovation.
A statement released by the African Press Organisation, copied to the GNA, said the university would be a groundbreaking step in strengthening higher education and building human capital in Africa.
It said Africa has been slow to develop its science and technology sectors and commercialize its innovations.
The statement said currently the best African university ranks just 113th globally and Of the 400 top universities worldwide, only four are in Africa, all of which are in South Africa.
It said while Africa accounts for 13.4 per cent of the world’s people, it produces only 1.1 per cent of world scientific knowledge.
The statement said the PAU would establish an academic network of already existing post-graduate and research institutions intended to serve all African countries, consisting of five thematic institutes based in East, West, Central, North and Southern Africa.
It said the PAU would deliver programs in: basic sciences, technology and innovation (East Africa), Earth and life sciences including health and agriculture (West Africa), Governance, humanities and social sciences (Central Africa), Water and energy sciences including climate change (North Africa) and Space sciences (Southern Africa)
The statement quoted Agnes Soucat, Director of Human Development Department of AfDB as saying “Thousands of students all over Africa will benefit from this project. This is truly an amazing regional effort to help African universities achieve world-class status.”
“It will increase the pool of African scientists and researchers not only to serve the needs of the continent but to help the youth to become competitive in international labour markets,” she said.
The statement said the project would contribute to the skills needed by African countries to add value to their natural resources and enhance competitiveness and youth employment contributing to the AfDB’s overall objectives of inclusive and green growth.
It said the PAU is also a major step towards establishing the African Higher Education and Research Space by contributing to: efficient regional higher education governance system; improved quality of higher education at the regional level, creating strong links with the labour market; equitable access to quality higher education in science, technology and engineering fields; and increased number of institutions achieving world-class status.
The statement said this project would also help to set up the governance structure of the PAU at central and country levels as well as academic and research capacity. The first three PAU thematic institutes will be based in Kenya, Nigeria and Cameroon.
It said it this operation was a response to a request from the African Union for technical assistance and financial resources for the design and operation of a network of hubs of excellence in higher education, to help meet the need for education, training and research in five key areas of African development.
The statement said Africa has only 35 scientists and engineers per million inhabitants, compared with 168 for Brazil, 2,457 for Europe and 4,103 for the United States.
In said shortage of skills has been a major constraint to Africa’s progress in science, technology and innovation.
The statement said due to low investment in research and development, Africa ranks low in global competitiveness and productivity.
It said African students tend to opt for economics, business, law and social sciences rather than science, engineering and technology, hampering the continent’s competitiveness and growth.
The project is in line with the Bank’s newly approved 10 Year Strategy for 2013-2022 and responds to the Regional Integration and Skills and Technology Core Operational Priorities of the Bank’s 2013-2022 Strategy.
This is in line with the Bank’s draft Human Capital Strategy and New Education Model in Africa.