1.0 Introduction

In collaboration with the Governments of Malawi and Mozambique, the World Bank, the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) and Regional University Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) are preparing a proposed investment project – the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Additional Financing Project (ACE II AF). The main objective of the proposed project is to strengthen linkages between universities in participating countries and regional agricultural sector needs through strengthening (i) agri-food related education and training enhanced with trans-disciplinary approaches and applied research; (ii) university linkages to the regional agricultural sector – its priorities, needs and stakeholders; and (iii) university partnership with private and public entities related to agri-food both within and outside the region. Six key regional gap areas have been identified and prioritized for this Project: (i) agribusiness and entrepreneurship; (ii) agri-food systems and nutrition; (iii) agricultural policy analysis; (iv) agricultural risk management and climate change; (v) rural innovations and agricultural extension; and (vi) statistical analysis, forecast and data management.

The Regional Steering Committee (RSC) comprised of representatives from participating countries, academia, regional bodies, and the private sector, will provide overall guidance to the project. For day-to-day implementation and facilitation of the project, the RSC will continue working with the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) as the Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) for the project. The selection of the ACEs has been done through a competitive and transparent process, managed by IUCEA and RUFORUM and overseen by the RSC. An Independent Evaluation Committee (IEC) was constituted to evaluate eligible submitted proposals. The RSC was mandated to make the ACE selection based on the IEC recommendations and recommendations from participating countries. The information hereafter provides a clear description of the selection process and criteria.

2.0 Call for Proposals

In collaboration with the Governments of the two participating countries, the World Bank Group, IUCEA and RUFORUM jointly issued a Call for Proposals on 5th February 2022. By the deadline for submission on 6th March 2022, IUCEA received a total of 12 official submissions from the two participating countries: Malawi (9) and Mozambique (3). After receipt of proposals, IUCEA and RUFORUM carried out an eligibility screening based on the eligibility criteria provided in the Protocol for Proposal Assessment that stipulates those institutions submitting proposals must: (i) be from the participating countries; (ii) offer PhD program(s) or express readiness to offer PhD training. Based on the above-mentioned criteria and considering the number of proposals received, all 12 proposals were subjected to both desk review and on-site assessment. Read more here

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