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East Africa Gets First Centre of Excellence

East African Community (EAC) member states have expressed optimism that the region will soon turn into an ICT hub, with the launch of a Centre of Excellence for ICT in East Africa (CENIT@EA) in Arusha, Tanzania, on Friday, Aug. 23.

Located at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), the center, the first of its kind in the region, aims at strengthening the employability of graduates, The New Times, Rwanda’s leading daily, reported.

Four Rwandan students pursuing a master’s degree program in embedded and mobile systems are among the 25 students at the center that is fully sponsored by the German government to the tune of 4 million euros.

“Technology is changing so fast,” said Joyce Ndalichako, Tanzania’s minister for education. “We welcome the embedded and mobile systems because such courses will help us curb vices like financial fraud. This will lead us into fully embracing the fourth industrial revolution technology.”

Each of the six partner states was given six scholarship slots. However, South Sudan is yet to utilize its slots.

Alexandre Lyambabaje, the executive secretary of the Interuniversity Council for East Africa (IUCEA), said knowledge on embedded and mobile systems has been lacking in the region, yet this technology is used in the everyday life of East Africans.

“This technology is found in cars, irrigation systems, drones that collect data, and our doors at home. So, it’s not by choice, we are obliged to embrace it,” he said.

“I come from a semi-arid area called Kitui in Kenya that has poor soils. The course I am doing will help me do a sensor network to test soils before applying fertilizers,” said Josephine Mbandi, a Kenyan student at the center.

Ndalichako called for more enrollment of female students at the center, saying it’s surprising that the center only has six female students out of 25 sponsored students.

Ange Josiane Uwayisenga, one of the Rwandan students at the center, said that the course will help her develop smart irrigation and other biometric applications that will help societies back home.

The scholarships awarded by the center not only cover the monthly allowance, rent assistance, financial assistance for studies and research, and writing and printing costs, but also the tuition fees applied at NM-AIST.

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