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19.03.2012 Rwanda

Secretary General hails establishment of Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda / Urges East African students to take up available scholarship offer

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, March 19, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera over the weekend hailed the Government of Rwanda for establishing the Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda and offering a generous 50% scholarship to prospective students from the East African Community Partner States.

The Secretary General, who was officiating at the open day for the Carnegie Mellon University Rwanda (CMUR) hosted by Rwanda's Minister Counsellor Mrs Yamina Karitanyi at the Rwanda High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, said the establishment of the University in Rwanda comes at a time when the Partner States have agreed to host the East African Science and Technology Commission in Rwanda.

Amb. Sezibera said for the Community to move forward, science, technology and innovation were critial and were the drivers of growth in the region. He said science and technolgy cannot be bound by boundaries.

”We have got to let the two drive us and not bottled up within our boundaries,” Amb. Sezibera said.

The Secretary General urged other universities and tertiary institutions to consider students in East Africa as locals rather than as foreigners when it comes to paying tuition fees. He said it was evident the youth in the region had grasped information and communication technologies (ICT) and innovation with a lot of enthusiasm and energy and therefore challenged universities like CMUR to deliver professional development courses that will challenge the students to examine trends and strategies in the dynamic ICT industry within the EAC.

Amb. Sezibera informed the guests, who comprised prospective students, university lecturers, Kenya Government officials from the ICT and education sector, diplomats and the media, that as the region was striving to establish a vibrant regional market that is free from any impediments that may obstruct the free movement of goods and people among the Partner States, it was important for universities including CMUR to develop courses that will make the students more competitive and relevant in all the five economies.

The Secretary General noted that CMUR will undergo the assessment process as one of the EAC's Centres of Excellence in ICT and assured it of the Community's support.

The Regional Director of the African Development Bank's East African Resource Centre based in Nairobi, Mr. Gabriel Negatu affirmed that EAC was a robust bloc that was setting trends in ICT and it was a source of pride to have the presence of CMU in Rwanda, one of the Partner States of the EAC.

Mr. Negatu said ADB was proud to partner with the Government of Rwanda and CMU in making the project a reality whose objective was to address the shortage of ICT professionals in the region. He said a revolution was underway in the education sector whereby universities of yesterday were different from those of today.

“You don't need physical structures and it is more of interactive and virtual making the whole world one big resource centre and CMU is setting that trend in EAC, ” Mr. Negatu remarked.

The Deputy CEO of Kenya ICT Board, Mrs. Unice Karuiki said the region would be more competitive once ICT is fully embraced by the youth and thanked the governments of Kenya and Rwanda for the strong partnership in this sector.

Professor Bruce H. Krogh, the Director of Carnegie Mellon University Rwanda informed the guests that research and development in technology was now a global enterprise and Carnegie Mellon had recognized that education also needed to be a global enterprise to meet the demands throughout the world for highly skilled engineers and innovators.

He said the West was no longer the sole source of technological breakthroughs, and it was no longer the dominant growth market for information and communication technology.

“Many people are now saying that the growth of ICT in Africa will outpace anything that has ever been seen before anywhere else in the world,” the Professor asserted.

Professor Krogh disclosed that Carnegie Mellon University chose to come to East Africa because of a number of reasons that include: sustained annual average economic growth of 6.4% for the Partner States during the period 2005-2009; financial stability including debt less than 10% of GDP, and deficits less than 3% of GDP; productivity that has been growing at the rate of 2.5% per year, and because it was a growing market with over 133 million people, with over 60% under 25 years old. He added that in the area of ICT, the EAC had broadband internet access with the most extensive in-land fiber optic connectivity in Sub-Sahara Africa outside of South Africa.

He said Rwanda has been consistently following a long-term plan for development, through its Vision 2020; is business friendly and pro-ICT as evidenced by installing nation-wide fiber optic cable.

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