Rwanda is set to host the region’s International Centre for Theoretical Physics, a science hub that seeks to advance scientific education in the developing world.
The construction of the first phase of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) complete with equipment, is underway and it expected to be concluded by December under a budget of about Rwf500 million.
According to the Ministry of Education, the centre will be hosted at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology.
“Graduates of ICTP programmes will gain high level skills that will be essential in supporting our education system at University level in Mathematics or Physics. They will also provide quality research in key sectors of the economy, including renewable energies, geo-physics, climate change and information technology,” Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, the Minister for Education, told The New Times yesterday.
“It will offer research courses in Theoretical High Energy Physics, Condensed Matter, Statistical Physics and Material Science, Pure and Applied Mathematics as well as Earth System Physics which includes climate change and geophysics.”
In its initial phase, the institute will register up to 50 students each year.
“The focus of the centre will be the East African region, but it will be open to students from all of Africa, especially for the short courses undertaken at the Centre,” Lwakabamba said.
President Paul Kagame, flanked by Lwakabamba, attended the opening ceremony of ICTP’s 50th anniversary in Trieste, Italy, yesterday.
The four-day event was graced by over 250 scientists and politicians from across the world.
In his keynote address at the event, Kagame, welcomed plans to set up ICTP’s regional hub in Rwanda, stating that science should not be considered a luxury but a daily necessity.
“We in Rwanda are working all the time, following your lead, to find ways of improving humanity’s well-being through Mathematics, Science, and Technology. We always seek to understand more and better,” he said.
“For 50 years, ICTP has been at the forefront of scientific cooperation with the developing world. Thousands of young scientists from Africa, Asia, and Latin America have benefited from ICTP’s programmes.”
Kagame noted that the institute’s base in Rwanda will counter challenges brought about by “brain-drain”, which the continent continues to suffer at the expense of developed countries.
“The tools pioneered at ICTP, which have since been adopted more widely, aimed to stem the “brain drain” by bringing young scientists from developing countries into top-notch research networks,” Kagame said.
“This made the beneficiaries better able to build scientific communities in their own countries, and helped to reduce the isolation that caused precious talent to be wasted.”
President Kagame also recognised ICTP for prioritising scientific topics relevant to the developing world, without necessarily copying industrialised nations.
“By attracting prestige and funding to such questions, the ICTP, and institutions like it, enable a scientist from Africa to make important contributions back home, even as she pursues her career in the world’s leading laboratories. In this way, the problem of “brain drain” can be turned, in part, into an opportunity,” he said.
ICTP operates under a tripartite agreement between the Italian Government, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In June this year, ICTP partnered with the University of Rwanda to host an international science seminar dubbed “An African School on Space Science Related Applications and Awareness for Sustainable Development of the region”, which attracted over 60 participants from across the world.