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World Bank, Rwanda Hosts Africa Forum on Higher Education for Science, Technology and Innovation

March 12, 2014

KIGALI, March 12, 2014 – The World Bank and the Government of Rwanda are hosting a high-level forum on Higher Education for Science, Technology and Innovation in Kigali this week, themed “Accelerating Africa’s Aspirations.” Participants will focus on how to align higher education in Africa with the continent’s massive and largely unmet demand for engineers, scientists, health professionals and technicians.

H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa will address the forum on March 13, highlighting the need to expand access to science and mathematics-based disciplines at African universities. Accelerating this process is highly strategic as low-income countries in Africa seek to modernize their economies and become more competitive globally.

Addressing delegations and experts today, Hon. Vincent Biruta, Minister of Education, Rwanda said:
This forum will examine how Africa will work together to develop the necessary science, technology, research and innovation capacity that will serve the priority sectors of our economies such as agriculture, environment, trade and industry, infrastructure, health and ICTs.”

In an opening keynote speech for the forum on Thursday, March 13, Makhtar Diop, the World Bank's Vice President for Africa, will tell participants:

We are delighted to co-host this forum with the Government of Rwanda—a leading champion of science and technology in Africa—because it is absolutely critical to invest more in high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics education on the continent. We need to produce more graduates who can drive private sector competitiveness, find solutions to pressing development problems, contribute to faster and more inclusive growth in our African economies, and allow Africa to take its rightful place in the fully integrated global economy.”

Convening senior representatives from governments, academia, and the private sector, the forum will also highlight the importance of setting up regional centers of excellence in various disciplines such as agriculture, biotechnology, health, water and sanitation, and information and communication technologies.

Regional partnerships help universities to pool their resources, achieve economies of scale, set up joint facilities and standards, and most importantly, share knowledge and expertise,Diop will note, “Beyond the borders of the continent, we need to tap the vast experience of Brazil, China, India, and Korea.” 

The forum, which will be live-streamed on March 13 at: http://www.livestream.com/worldbankafrica, includes panel discussions with ministers, stakeholders, and experts. Participating countries will issue a call to action at the conclusion of the forum.