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The government of Germany is set to deepen higher education cooperation with East Africa by funding the establishment of a centre of excellence in information and communication technology or ICT in the region to deliver a specialized masters programme in embedded and mobile systems.

The centre, to be formed through a partnership between the German Society for International Cooperation, the German Academic Exchange Service, or DAAD, and the Inter-University Council for East Africa, or IUCEA, will see a university or a consortium of universities selected to host the centre, and training students from across the region.

The latest ICT centre of excellence project will be funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to the tune of €1.38 million (US$1.54 million) and learning is expected to commence from September 2018.

A panel of experts delegated by Germany's cooperation agency DAAD to carry out the assessment and readiness of the applicant institution

Under the initiative an East African university or consortium of universities will be competitively appointed to host the centre and partner with a German university or consortium of universities, for the purposes of capacity development, academic exchange and curriculum development.

An assessment team from DAAD conducted an institutional preparedness and evaluation visit at the College of Science and Technology which is the proposed center host, in a meeting that was attended by the UR Vice Chancellor Prof. Philip Cotton, the DVC in charge of institutional advancement Amb.Dr. Charles Murigande, the Principal of CST Dr. Ignace Gatare and academic staff of the college of science and technology.

Digital transformation

The primary goal of the project is for universities in East Africa to offer programmes and services that meet the requirements of private and public sectors as well as of civil society for a digital transformation in the region.

The centre will also establish synergies with other centres of excellence in the region such as the ACE II initiative of the World Bank.

It is envisaged that “a highly modern masters programme will be set up which will include general and specific modules in embedded and mobile systems.

DAAD will be the German partner for the university partnership and the masters degree programme, while the implementation partner on the East African side is the IUCEA.

The programme will have “practical elements”, including a four-week internship aimed at applying and deepening students' professional and interdisciplinary skills, and a one-semester practice-oriented masters thesis dealing primarily with problems in ICT-related work areas in the private and public sectors.

It will also have generic courses for interdisciplinary competencies such as soft skills,
management and entrepreneurship.

Emphasis on women

Up to 40 students will be enrolled per cohort with a special emphasis on women. Graduates with a first academic degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as professionals working in academia, industry or the public sector, are the target.

Teaching and technical staff seconded to the centre will receive specially tailored training to enable them to execute their duties, helping in technology transfer.

According to IUCEA, the masters programme will be established as a bilateral cooperation within the framework of DAAD’s Africa Strategy and will complement the existing DAAD-funded African Centres of Excellence (ACE) programme.

The institution selected to host the centre will be required to establish regional networks with a “clear focus” on cooperation with both private and public sectors, and should be dedicated to serving socio-economic integration and the development agenda of the region.

Double degree programme

In the medium term, the establishment of a double degree programme with reciprocal recognition of educational modules between the selected German University and the East African partner university is conceivable, says the DAAD document.

Funds will be provided to support teaching and administrative staff, provision of learning materials and equipment and to facilitate coordination of the partnership.

Also to be covered under the funding will be major academic activities including curricula development, workshops and conferences, summer school, supervision of theses and internships and student exchange.

An international “expert commission” appointed by DAAD,will select the successful institutions.

More photos

CST academic staff during an interactive session with the evaluation team from DAAD

Ms.Claudine Irere, the Director General in the Ministry of ICT also attended the meeting

The CST Principal Dr. Ignace Gatare,(right) together with the Director of the African Center of excellence in the Internet of Things which is also hosted by UR-CST

The UR Vice Chancellor Prof.Phil Cotton giving his remarks during the meeting

UR senior managers and other invited stakeholders during the assessment meeting

Story by: Eric Mugisha
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