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President Kagame Reveals Plans to Boost Technology Innovations in Rwanda

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has called for hard work and mindset shift in Africa to empower people to achieve sustainable prosperity.

“Africa was largely bypassed by the last three industrial revolutions. The pressure is on to catch up and keep pace so Africa is not left in the wake of technological progress,” said Kagame on Tuesday.

“This starts with a change in our mindset. We really cannot be satisfied with just ending extreme poverty. Our aim is shared and sustainable prosperity. And the key to that is science and innovation, bound by research,” he added.

Kagame, who has won international accolades for turning Rwanda from a state of hopelessness after the destructive 1994 genocide to a fast-developing country, was speaking at the Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Center in Dakar, Senegal.

The event was organised by African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Next Einstein Initiative in partnership with the Robert Bosch Foundation.

Kagame was among several African and world leaders who issued a joint call to action for increased investment and support for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in Africa.

He said technology and skills are the lifeblood of economic growth and competitiveness.

“We must continue to invest in the necessary education and infrastructure, including broadband,” said the President.

He acknowledged some of the challenges facing Africa which include lack of sufficient numbers of science and technology professionals.

“We do not invest enough in research and development. The share of higher education students enrolled in science and engineering is too low.

Women comprise less than one third of researchers and even fewer scientists and engineers, which means we are not using our human resources to the full,” he observed.

Officials said the event marked a historic first step in charting a new course for science-led development in Africa.

Science and technology-driven innovation is an undeniable engine for economic growth and social inclusion.

Today, a lack of investment in R&D and STEM fields is stunting Africa’s growth as the continent contributes just 1 percent of global research output while losing 35 percent of aid i.e. $4 billion each year to STEM-related expatriate jobs.

Kagame called for closer partnership between scientists and the private sector, adding, Rwanda’s national science policy aims to contribute to economic growth by strengthening knowledge creation and building a culture of innovation.

“To that end we have developed joint initiatives with partners from around the world and are always open to new collaborations. We will soon launch the Rwanda chapter of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and establish the global headquarters for both AIMS and the Next Einstein Forum in Kigali,” said the President.


The next forum will be held in Kigali in 2018.

Kagame also revealed that his government will this year launch the Kigali Innovation City, which brings three critical functions together in the same location.

“First, tech clusters for start-ups and established firms. Second, a research and education campus anchored by Carnegie Mellon University and AIMS. Third, an Innovation Fund that brings together government and private sector capital,” he noted.

“Africa cannot accumulate wealth merely by consuming technologies produced elsewhere. The purpose of initiatives like Kigali Innovation City is to unlock value by better adapting technology to our economic and social context, as well as our current and future needs.

Building on that, we will develop entirely new technologies that are both beneficial and commercially viable.”

By Robert Muriisa.

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