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CMU signs contract to open campus in Rwandan capital

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newsdesk@greatlakesvoice.com

Rwandan President Paul Kagame greets Carnegie Mellon University President Jared L. Cohon on Friday before speaking at a gathering of about 1,000 people at the Oakland university

 

After years of negotiations, officials at Carnegie Mellon University on Friday signed a contract with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to open a campus in the central African nation’s capital next year.

For Kagame, in Pittsburgh with a heavy security contingent, the occasion was a celebration for his administration’s drive to transform the tiny landlocked nation from a land of subsistence farmers to a knowledge-based economy specializing in information and communications technology.

The University is to offer Masters Degree in various disciplines of Technology.

Speaking to an overflow audience of about 1,000 at CMU’s University Center, Kagame said his nation’s advances in education and economic development may well have their roots in that bloody period.

Kagame was quoted by PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW as saying that “It’s just that we learned lessons from our tragedy … that now people who had been hurt so badly, had been sunk so low, maybe there was only one way to go.”

Kagame said the partnership with CMU shows the changing tide in Africa’s relations with the developed world.

“Sustained development requires nations to take charge of their own development,” he said.

In addition to offering graduate degrees in information science and technology and computer and electrical engineering, CMU will include a collaborate with the Rwandan government to develop an innovation incubator, executive education programs and a mobility research center.

“We are pleased to bring our expertise in mounting international programs and our culture of innovations to Rwanda and to contribute to the country’s emergence as a regional technology hub,” said CMU President Jared L. Cohon.

Rwanda will provide campus facilities in the capital, Kigali, which CMU will staff and operate. The Rwandan government will pay CMU nearly $100 million for its services over 10 years, university officials said.

Marie Christine Gasingirwa, director general for science, technology and research in Rwanda’s ministry of education, said students are eager for the CMU campus.

“Everybody’s asking, ‘When is it starting? When are they coming?'” she said.

Outside the university hall, however, a vocal group of about 50 protesters, members of Pittsburgh’s Congolese community and Rwandans who traveled from New York and Nashville, urged CMU to rethink its relationship with Kagame. Sam Faller, a fifth-year CMU architecture student who attended Kagame’s speech, was impressed.

“I’m interested in why nothing like this has happened before. With all the growth they’ve experienced, it makes a lot of sense to invest there,” he said.

 

 

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