Kagame launches new CMU-Africa campus, lauds diversity of students

President Kagame addresses guests during the inauguration of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU-Africa) new campus in Kigali Innovation City in Gasabo district on Thursday. The campus was built with funding by the African Development Bank and it is the first of five centres of excellence across Africa that the Bank has committed to build. / Village Urugwiro

Africa must make the right linkages between technology and industry, and knowledge and production to be able to achieve her development aspirations, President Kagame has said.

The Head of State said this while opening the new campus of Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-Africa) that is built in Kigali Innovation City in Gasabo district.

The launch of the new campus was attended by among others the President of Carnegie Mellon University, Farnam Jahanian.

CMU-Africa will be the anchor facility of the innovation city, according to officials.

“This world-class education is offered right here on the continent to young Africans who are able to learn and do in the very context of challenges that need to be addressed…this makes a difference in terms of solutions that are informed by reality,” said President Kagame.

The new campus is built on an expansive 6,000 square metres and is equipped with modern facilities and laboratories that will enable distance learning and teleconferencing for students, who are currently 128 from different African countries.

CMU-Africa was established in 2011 and is the only U.S. research university offering its master’s degrees with a full-time faculty, staff and operations in Africa. 

Born out of a partnership between CMU and the Government of Rwanda, CMU-Africa has so far graduated 196 students from 19 countries.

They have graduated with Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (MSECE) and Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT).

The President thanked the university for believing in Rwanda and other partners like the African Development Bank (AfDB), for investing in the new campus.

Construction works were fully funded by the pan-African bank to the tune of Rwf9 billion.

“For the last eight years, you have worked to educate young African engineers who are driving innovation and technological transformation in their respective institutions and countries,” the President said to the US university management.

Diverse community

The President commended the fact that the university has students from different countries, saying that it was a reflection of a broad spectrum of Africans from across regions.

“This means that CMU-Africa is much more than an incubator for technology leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. It is also an important centre for nurturing collaboration on our continent,” he said.

He added: “We look forward to the community of skilled engineers and researchers being trained here, serving Africa and beyond as has been the case in some instances.”

In his speech, Jahanian stressed that CMU's mission is rooted in the idea that education is society's great equalizer. 

“It has the power to bridge social, racial and geographical divides like no other force,” he said, calling for significant investment in education across the African continent.

He added that in today’s global economy that is knowledge-driven, the role of education is more important than ever, especially in Africa, which will be home to the youngest and fastest-growing population in the world for the next three decades.

Following the launch, President Kagame was hosted to a fireside chat during which he fielded questions from students from different nationalities, which touched diverse topics.

During the chat that was moderated by Ghanaian student, Chris Dare, the Head of State pushed for the need to keep reducing the cost of accessing quality of education on the continent. 

“Africa is not limited in terms of resources, though it is a problem, in the way it is perceived. We have to change that,” he stated.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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