The Government of Rwanda and World Bank Group yesterday signed $20million (about Rwf15.3billion) credit facility agreement to strengthen higher education through research and training.
“The $20 million credit is part of a $140 million IDA credit approved by the WB board of Directors on June 9th 2016, for the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project(ACE II),” he said, adding that Rwanda is part of the Seven African countries currently benefiting from this facility.
Other countries include Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
The loan is part of the International Development Association (IDA) credit facility and will be paid after 38 years with 10 year grace period, the Minister for Finance and Economic planning Claver Gatete, said yesterday during the signing ceremony.
This project will promote regional specialisation among participating universities within areas that address particular common development challenges, and strengthen the capacities of these universities to deliver high quality training and applied research, Gatete explained.
According to the agreement, four centers of excellence will be funded by ACEII in the University of Rwanda’s three main colleges.
The project will strengthen 24 competitively-selected ACEs in five clusters of regional priorities including Industry, Agriculture, Health, Education and Applied Statistics, Dr. Nelson Ijumba, the University of Rwanda, Vice Chancellor for academic affairs and research, said.
“The funds will support centers of excellence in Rwanda’s institutions of higher education and help strengthen their capacity to deliver quality post-graduate education and build collaborative research capacity regionally and internationally,” he said.
The College of Business and Economics will host the African center of excellence for data sciences, while the College of Education will act as home to the African center of excellence for innovative teaching in Mathematics and Science, according to Dr. Manasseh Mbonye, principal for the College of Science and Technology.
The College of Science and Technology will host two ACEs, including the one that will handle energy for sustainable development and Internet.
“The overall objective is to build a critical mass of African scientists and engineers in IT through higher education and research that will be able to set up a living lab in Rwanda for open innovation and co-creation of IT for Development,” said Mbonye.
The College of Science and Technology is set to host an international multidisciplinary center that combines expertise in statistics, economics, business, computer science, and engineering to use big data and data analytics.
“This will support evidence-based decision-making, help solve complex real-world problems related to development, monitor and evaluate performance of public intervention programmes, and stimulate innovation,” said, Yasser El Gammal, the World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda.