Education ministry takes over Carnegie Mellon University project

Rwanda Development Board chief executive Clare Akamanzi and Minister for Education Eugene Mutimura sign the agreement to hand over Carnegie Mellon University project in Kigali yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Rwanda Development Board(RDB) on Friday handed over all responsibilities it had in Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Africa, a public-private venture of the Government of Rwanda and CMU Pittsburgh, to the Ministry of Education.

CMU Africa began as an ICT project with RDB spearheading its development and the work that the university has been doing in Rwanda, which is to train a generation of highly qualified engineers through its diverse master’s programme.

“RDB has been home for the project of developing CMU-Africa into a centre of ICT excellence in Rwanda, particularly through coordinating the work that the university has been doing,” Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer of RDB said.

RDB has in particular been coordinating the construction of CMU Africa’s new campus in the Special Economic Zone which took about USD10 million upon completion.

The construction work was completed last year and its inauguration is expected to occur before the end of this year.

“We have completed a very big role that RDB was undertaking which is to make sure this centre of excellence is constructed with the support of African Development Bank. It’s ready for students that it’s going to be hosting,” she noted.

Because of the completed task, Akamanzi added that the next phase is now giving oversight and regulating the university like any other university in Rwanda, a responsibility that is held by Higher Education Council.

Government envisions the Carnegie Mellon University project as one of the ICT centres of excellence that will drive the growth of the much-needed talent in the country, especially high-value talent that the university provides in its curriculum.

The Ministry of Education will now take over the responsibilities of oversight and the implementation of the partnership that the Government has with CMU Pittsburgh.

Like other centres of excellence CMU Africa currently provides two master’s programmes at a globally competitive level, something that the Government highly values for the future of Rwanda’s economic growth.

The university which offers Masters of Science in Information Technology and Masters of Electrical and Computer Engineering has so far graduated about 145 students since 2014 when it graduated the first class.

These are Rwanda and foreign students. In 2014, Rwandan students made up 80 per cent of the overall number of students at CMU Africa, and today, Rwandan students make up 50 per cent. And by June 2019, the prestigious University will graduate 204 students.

As per agreement, the university is supposed to maintain half of the students to be Rwandans.

“When we see students who graduate from this university we are very much optimistic that the university is contributing towards the national vision of producing highly qualified skilled graduates that are going to support us in terms of driving our economy because of a regional hub of science, technology and innovation,” Eugene Mutimura, the Education Minister.

The Education Ministry through Higher Education Council has already been regulating CMU Africa through making sure that it complies with the standard quality assurance. It has also been providing policy advisory to the university.

With the presence of CMU Africa in Rwanda and the anticipated entry of other publicly and privately held academic institutions, the Ministry of Education now has a critical role to strengthen the academia-private sector linkage and ecosystem to drive socio-economic development.

The country intends to attract more than 10 centres of excellence through its Kigali Innovation City (KIC) project, which recently got a boost following Rwanda’s partnership with Africa50.

At the moment, African Leadership University (ALU), Africa Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), University of Rwanda’s Biotechnology Centre and International Centre for Theoretical Physics are working to establish their permanent campuses in the country.