In June 2016, the World bank approved 24 Africa Centres of excellence in the Eastern and Southern African in various fields under the ACE II.
The approved centres were competitively selected from 92 eligible proposals and among them are the Africa Centre of Excellence for Aquaculture and Fisheries based at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AquaFish) and the Africa Centre of Excellence in Public Health and Herbal Medicine (ACEPHEM) based at University of Malawi’s College of Medicine.
The two centres of excellence were officially launched on Wednesday March 1st 2017 at a colorful ceremony that took place at Bingu International Convention Centre.
The function which was witnessed by both local and international delegates was graced by Hon Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano MP, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology.
Speaking as the guest of honor, the Minister said the centres will conduct research that will generate a lot of useful information that will contribute to the development of the nation.
“The establishment of these centres now presents the country with renewed hope. Not only will we be able to find solutions to social challenges affecting the region such as diseases; we will also benefit a lot from collaborative research with various international partners,” said the Minister.
He said the centres further provide an opportunity to train postgraduate students locally and within the region which is important to capacity development in the country and the region at large. The minister then assured both centres of government’s support and commitment to ensuring that the centres’ goals are realised.
In his remarks, LUANAR Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Kaunda said hosting an AquaFish ACE is no mean achievement saying it is a demonstration that LUANAR is a leading institution in aquaculture and fisheries sciences in Africa.
“The Centre will enable us to get quality students and allow us to partner with institutions that that will help us to come up with innovative research, innovative teaching and innovative learning,” he said.
He further said in response to the dwindling fish catches and low aquaculture production, AquaFish will train a pool of skilled and innovative graduates towards improved aquaculture and fisheries production in Malawi and the region.
“LUANAR is working closely with the private sector in fish saying Maldeco has been greatly involved in the project. This means that knowledge generated through research will contribute to better performance of Maldeco. We are also working with Innovative Fish Farmers Network (IFFN) so that when knowledge is generated, it is transferred to the farmers through the network and that they are able to produce better quality and productive fish,” said Professor
Kaunda who is also the Director of the AquaFish Centre.
He further thanked the World Bank through the government of Malawi for supporting the initiative which will enhance development of the sectors.
In his remarks, University of Malawi, Vice Chancellor Professor John Kalenga Saka commended College of Medicine saying ACEPHEM will help to address challenges faced in public health.
He said through the Centre, the College will increase enrolment of postgraduate students which will lead to increased research necessary to address the existing challenges in the health sector.
“It is interesting that the project will conduct research in public health focusing on urban health issues. Further, research and training will be conducted in herbal medicine including addressing themes as the identification of commonly used medical plants and quality assurance of herbal medicines used for treatment of malaria, maternal health and non-communicable diseases,” he said.
Research done at the two centres will benefit not only Malawi but the whole of the eastern and Southern region.