Washington DC - Carnegie Mellon University last week hosted the Rwanda Economic Development Forum that brought together an elite group of innovation experts, scholars, business executives and social enterprise leaders.
The aim of the forum was to examine how the proposed Regional ICT Centre of Excellence (CoE) can go beyond its primary education mission and contribute to the economic development of Rwanda and the region at-large.
The forum which was hosted by Dr. Pradeep Khosla, the Dean of the College of Engineering, was used as a platform to stimulate discussion on how the university can fulfill Rwanda’s vision to establish new models for education in research and development as well as the commercialization of information, communication and other advanced technologies.
Endorsed by the Government of Rwanda, the forum centered around three main topics; Human Capacity Building and Workforce Development; Entrepreneurship, Innovation Incubation and Strategic Partnerships and Investment.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Rwanda’s ambassador to the US, James Kimonyo reiterated the government’s commitment to the strategic and mutual partnership with the University.
Kimonyo emphasised the relevance of Rwanda’s geographical location as a conducive environment for addressing the deficit of human capital in Engineering and ICT in the region.
The envoy encouraged the participants to continue to assist Rwanda with this ambitious agenda by serving in a more permanent consultative capacity.
According to a press statement from the Rwandan embassy in Wahington, the forum was limited to a small, but influential group ranging from various companies and institutions such as Stanford University, Princeton University, IBM, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, SEVEN, EMC, Global Learning Portal, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Thousand Hills Venture Fund, Pixel Corps, Good Works International, Transitional Trade, and the World Bank.
The panel discussions at the forum covered other key areas like achieving competitive advantages through research innovation, maximizing the network effects of regional integration, creating synergy between skills development, industry demands and job placement, nurturing the ingenuity of entrepreneurs through research activities, and developing appropriate performance indicators to evaluate the progress of the Centre of Excellence.
Since the MoU between Carnegie Mellon University and the Government of Rwanda was signed two years ago, they have worked together to produce the conceptual design, operational budget, infrastructure requirements and provision for relevant equipment.
Rwanda’s establishment of the Regional ICT Centre of Excellence represents one of NEPAD’s goals to foster economic competitiveness and sustainable development through the investment of human capital and reversing the historical brain drain that is plaguing Africa.