KIST was set up in
1997 to serve as a center of excellence in science,
technology and Management. Five years after its
creation, has KIST managed to fulfill this ambition?
A great deal has already been achieved in such a
short time. We have graduated students at different
levels -Certificate and Diploma and we have just
held our first Graduation Ceremony, when a total
of 463 part time and full time students were awarded
diplomas and degrees.
We are cooperating with a number of institutions
within the sub region. We have sent our students
to the National University of Rwanda, to Makerere
University in Uganda and this year to Jomo Kenyatta
University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya
- for practical work. We have signed a number of
important MOU's with International Institutions
and we have recently been accepted as a UNESCO Centre
for Engineering Education in Africa.
We started part time courses in adult education,
which have been very popular, We have good technologies,
which we are now transferring to the rural areas
to help the rural population. We have developed
Internet access and now we are providing Internet
services to a number of people, organisations, industries
However, we have not yet managed to fulfill completely
our ambitions. Mainly because we met obstacles that
had not been anticipated. The major objective was
to set up a practical oriented institution. Therefore
this called for very good workshops, very good laboratories
and these cost a lot of money. Different donor agencies
like the UNDP and friendly countries such as Japan
and the Netherlands came to our assistance - but
not as much as we had expected and this posed a
constraint on providing the facilities we needed.
You were talking about the achievements of your
institution in income generation for self-sustainability.
Was this part of your initiative?
Yes, because my experience in the management of
higher institutions of learning has been since 1975
when I was in Tanzania, then went to Nigeria and
now here. I have seen institutions in Africa, which
produce graduates in computer science without ever
touching a keyboard because they cannot afford a
computer. I have seen institutions where the professors
themselves buy their own chalk because the institution
cannot afford to buy it.
So here, we realized that we had to generate our
own income. We are the only institution that started
charging tuition fees on students who were coming
on regular courses. Secondly we started this part
time training program and now we are getting 1300
evening students. There's quite a lot that we have
done in terms of generating our own resources.
Now there's something very important - we have ventured
into a Bureau of consultancy services. Institutions
like the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and
Communication which deal with road network, Ministry
of Energy and many institutions attract international
funding for certain projects. Unfortunately these
cannot utilize funding unless they undertake studies.
The brains of technology and management are concentrated
here at KIST. So why not use them to do these studies?
So we are now enhancing our consultancy bureau and
this will allow us to do a number of studies and
we generate income out of it.
So when did you start with this initiative?
I think immediately in 1998 when we started a small
consultancy with NGOs like world vision and some
Did you also target local companies?
Yes, with companies like Bralirwa and then Banque
Commerciale du Rwanda (BCR). We also did some work
with Bank of Commerce, Development and Industry
(BCDI). This we believe will empower our students
to know what is happening in the outside world and
how exactly consultancy work is done. It is a very
Your students are modeled to be an asset of the
Rwandan private sector and the region as a whole.
What kind of relationship do you enjoy with the
We want to work with the private sector very closely.
We believe that these people in the private sector
are role models for our students.
Secondly what we are doing here is entirely for
both the public and the private sectors. In fact,
we did convince the government to pick successful
people in the private sector to be part of our governing
council and this has been very successful. We believe
they can guide us in our activities here.
The private sector can also play a key role in the
development of the curriculum. It is important to
involve the private sector in the development of
our curriculum in order to make it relevant and
appropriate to their demands.
We also believe that the private sector can assist
in funding some of our courses. They can help in
buying equipment for certain faculties and actually
we are trying to broaden our cooperation in a number
of ways. Some like Bralirwa could also allow us
access their laboratories and workshops.
We are looking for ways
of forming joint ventures. We have a lot of expertise
in different fields. For example, look at the Internet
provision itself. This is a joint venture between
KIST and MTN Rwandacell.
Rwanda is set to be an ICT icon in the region. This
will require a number of computers for primary and
secondary schools. Purchasing these computers itself
is very expensive but maintaining and upgrading
them is also another expensive thing. The expertise
for maintenance is available at KIST. This is also
another field we hope to cooperate in with the private
sector. Generally we are looking at possibilities
for forming firm joint venture with the private
sector for assembling and maintaining computers.
You mentioned hiring a lot of expertise to help
in training your students. Do you think in the short
run you will be able to substitute expatriates with
Currently we have 115 academic staff who are Rwandans.
Only six Rwandans have a PhD. We are seriously mobilizing
resources from government and the private in cooperation
with different universities all over the world to
have our staff trained up to PhD. Already some 27
are away on staff training. While we do not have
full complement of our own staff we have no choice
but to engage expatriates.
KIST is preparing for the first graduation ceremony,
what is going to be your message to your first graduates?
Well the message to our first graduates will be
that as far as possible they should be self-reliant.
The idea of starting up this institution was to
equip our students with skills that should be used
to create their own employment and we are ready
to assist them.
We have technologies here, which we are training
our students to transfer to the rural economies.
We are putting in place the Centre for Promotion
of Technology Transfer - this idea is to be supported
by DFID putting up a $2.5 million scheme.
At the same time we are starting a centre called
the Centre for Technology and Business Innovation.
The whole idea is that government or private sector
cannot employ all of our graduating students. So
we want we want to equip these people with entreprenuership
skills, how to access funds, how to develop ideas
and also show them marketing skills.
We have presented a project proposal for support
concerning this idea to the Government of Germany.
The good thing is that quite a number of our graduates
have had experience from our cottage industries,
and our workshop. I believe they have acquired a
lot of experience that could be beneficial. The
government has also set up a $ 5 million donor fund
under the ministry of Finance to give small loans
to people like our students. So, I think they can
depend on themselves; they don't have to cry for
employment from government or any one else.
How do you deal with the issue of channeling
your graduates to the rural economies?
We are trying to link up with the rural areas through
the Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer
and through what we call community attachment. The
curriculum provides for this already. The attachment
programme exposes the students to what kind of problems
the rural community faces and the kind of help they
Finally, you mentioned that you were in Tanzania,
Nigeria, and UK and also we know that you are a
member of the UNESCO board. Can you give us a brief
professional background of yourself?
I was born in Tanzania and grew up there. When I
finished my secondary school education, I was one
of the lucky people to get a scholarship from a
number of countries including Sweden, Nairobi, Canada
and the UK. I picked the one to the UK and when
I finished my first degree from Leeds University,
I was again offered an opportunity by the same university
to do a Ph.D, so I went straight for the Ph.D.
From there I joined the University of Dar- es- Salaam
in the Faculty of Engineering where I rose through
different ranks up to a level of dean of Faculty
of Technology. I worked with this university for
10 years before proceeding to Nigeria. So I was
in Nigeria busy training Engineers from all over
Africa for about 12 years and then the government
here called me to start this institution in October
1997. Here we are, and things are moving.
I also belong to a number of organisations like
the International Association of University Presidents
where I sit on the council for Africa. I am a member
of the Executive Board of UNESCO. In Tanzania, I
was a member of the board of over 15 institutions
and organisations. Here in Rwanda, I am the president
of the Association of Engineers, Chairman of the
Board of Rwandatel. I am also a member of various
national commissions on Economic Affairs, Information
& Communication Technology, Human Resource Development,
and Higher Education etc.
NB : Winne shall not be responsible for