The ITU Academy Centres of Excellence (CoE) in Africa represent a sustainable network of selected training and educational institutions (hereafter “nodes”) that provide training opportunities in topics related to telecommunications and/or information and communication technologies (ICTs). The overall purpose is to promote human capacity building of governmental authorities, regulators, and senior managers of operators and service providers. To date, the CoE network in Africa has undergone two development phases, one spanning from 1994 to 1997 and the second ongoing phase from 1998 to 2012. Starting in 2012 a new and innovative model for delivering training through the CoE Network in Africa is foreseen.
The objective of the CoE in Africa is to establish a sustainable network of selected training and educational institutions comprising various nodes specializing in:
- Policy and Regulation
- Business Management
- New Technologies and Services
- Universal Access and Rural ICT Development
The strategic focus is on the consolidation and expansion of both new and existing CoE nodes with special attention paid to:
- Identifying areas wherein each node shows potential.
- Expanding the number of nodes and program activities.
- Diversifying facilitation methodologies.
- Consolidating the CoE brand.
- Strengthening the competencies of the subject matter experts in each participating node.
- Seeking partners from the more developed countries who share in the vision of the project and are willing to support the region in capacity building.
- Encouraging the participation of as many of the regional stakeholders as possible, including the private sector.
Ensuring the Sustainable Development
The performance of each individual CoE node is assessed annually against targets developed and agreed on in the CoE action plan. Based on this assessment and discussion with the focal point for the nodes, a decision is made as to whether to continue to work with the node or how to improve the work of the node.
The Centres of Excellence Network in Africa seeks to support efforts by the region’s nodes to enhance their relevance in and contribution to capacity building in the region. One important measure of relevance is the financial viability of the nodes, as this demonstrates their ability to sustainably deliver value. An overall key metric of success is the ability of the node to successfully deliver its respective action items as delineated in the CoE action plan.
The ultimate aim of the African CoE Network is to bring together the expertise of the entire region in the field of telecommunications/ICT (trainers, consultants, researchers, advisors), to share models of success, empower and train a cadre of regional professionals.
Roles and Responsibilities
The CoE in Africa has a governing Steering Committee which is made up of six members, namely AFRALTI; KIST, NetTel@Africa
, MAKERERE University, CMTL and ESMT plus the ITU.The Steering Committee is charged with the following responsibilities:
- Identifying the criteria for the allocation of courses/programs to the different nodes along with the subsequent finalization of the programs for each node within the action plan.
- Reviewing the mechanism for the inclusion of other institutions into the network of nodes.
- Approving the annual activity plans and the annual budget in consultation with the ITU, based on the competencies of each node.
- Deciding together with the ITU on the inclusion of new nodes and ensuring that all nodes meet their obligations in terms of performance.
- Evaluating and approving node progress reports submitted by the Coordinators and the ITU.
- Establishing the framework and formula for charging fees.
- Identifying a framework for the contributions made by the network nodes to the Project budget.
- Devising the mechanism for the collection of the revenues generated from the project activities of each node.
There is also an Advisory Committee which is composed of representatives of the regulators, (ARICEA, ARTAC, ARTAO, FOULED, EARPTO,), the regional association operator (SATA, CTOA, etc.), a representative of the Country Host of the Meeting of the Advisory Committee, the President of the Steering committee and the ITU. The key responsibilities of the Advisory Committee are:
- Advising the Steering Committee.
- Reflecting the needs of the region in terms of high level capacity building.
- Monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the activity plan including the impact of the CoE activities in the region.
- Proposing to the Steering Committee any significant amendments to the implementation strategy to improve performance.
- Reviewing and proposing the criteria for inclusion and exclusion of nodes.
- Supporting and promote the CoE project within the region.
- Acting as a vehicle for forging partnerships with international organisations and bodies supporting capacity building on the African continent.
ITU provides a platform for benchmarking the Africa CoE with other CoE’s and for sharing best practices. The ITU participates in the meetings of the Project Steering Committee and the Advisory Committee as a member. However, for the initial Steering Committee and Advisory Committee meetings, the ITU also chairs the meetings.. ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau’s Human Capacity Building Division (HCB), in liaison with the ITU regional office, gives guidance and advice to the Steering Committee on the implementation of the project within the framework of its Global CoE Strategy. The ITU is, amongst other things, responsible for the following tasks:
- Convening the Steering Committee and Advisory Committee meetings, and drafting the agenda for the meetings.
- Monitoring and evaluating the performance of the nodes against set criteria.
- Disbursement of funds.
- Consolidating the annual activity plan derived from the various nodes’ activity plans.
- Providing guidance and advice to the SC on the integration and implementation of the project within the framework of the global CoE project.
- Facilitating the establishment of links with global partners, including support in sourcing for external experts.
- Procuring the resources required for the execution of the project as specified in the project document and in line with approved action plans subject to the availability of project funds.
- Consolidating quarterly and annual activity reports from the various nodes.
- Maintaining close liaison with the Node Coordinators in the implementation of the Action plans of each node.
The strength of the African CoE network depends on the collective efforts of the individual nodes. In this regard, the network nodes commit themselves to:
- Develop and implement action plans.
- Promote the products and services of the CoE for which they have committed themselves to implement.
- Participate in all activities pertaining to the network for which the nodes’ presence is required.
- Propose activity plans including business plans for the CoE activities.
- Produce activity reports on implemented actions, including evaluation report and a list of participants.
- Participate in the management of the project though the Steering Committee.
Information on the creation of the Centres of Excellence in Africa
CoE Phase 1 (1994-2007): Creation of two Centres of Excellence in Africa - ESMT and AFRALTI
The two African Centres of Excellence at ESMT in Dakar for the French speaking countries, and AFRALTI in Nairobi for English speaking countries were among the first of the global CoEs to be established in June 2000 and June 2001 respectively. ITU support through a dedicated Centres of Excellence project has been instrumental in transforming both aforementioned institutions into viable training entities. Positive outcomes of the CoE project this far has been institutional stabilization and restoration of regional credibility for ESMT and AFRALTI. These success factors are measured by the strong favourable response from the African market, and improvements in the institutions’ revenue generating capacity.
Between 2001 and 2006, ESMT’s annual revenues rose from US$1,5 million to US$2,7 million. This revenue growth was such that ESMT is now financially self-reliant without any contributions from the member countries. During the same period, AFRALTI self generated revenues grew from about US$99,000 in 2001 to US$624,000 in 2006. For the first time in its history, AFRALTI was able to declare an operating surplus in mid 2007.
Many policy makers, telecommunications/ICT executives and professionals representing administrations, operators and regulators, were trained through the Centres of Excellence mechanism in the region. ESMT and AFRALTI benefitted from institutional strengthening through the acquisition of training materials and equipment as well as having some of their trainers trained through the support of the initiative.
CoE Phase 2 (2008-2012)
The second phase of the CoE project builds on the success of Phase I during the years 2001 – 2007. The focus of this second phase is on:
- Creating a single African network of excellence by both bringing together the networks created by AFRALTI and ESMT, and integrating new network nodes.
- Setting up a mechanism for the identification and inclusion of other regional institutions into the network.
- Supporting the extension of the work traditionally carried out by the CoEs. This would symbolize going beyond traditional training to embrace consulting services for the region, including the promotion of distance learning activities.
Diversifying and consolidating the CoE brand based on the experience and leadership of the existing nodes.
The CoE action plan for 2008-2011 is currently being implemented. Strong interest expressed by sponsors and institutions in the region will make it possible to garner support for future activities and to increase the nodes’ potential. Further, the quality and the volume of activities will increase. Future desired activity include chairing training program courses, harmonizing diplomas and certificates , developing relevant content for training courses and the promotion of distance teaching between all institutions and structures by a synergy of the resources .