Following Rwanda's offer to award 50% scholarships as tuition fees at Carnegie Mellon University -Rwanda, East African countries have expressed interest in interesting their citizens to enroll with the university.
The scholarships of which EAC citizens can benefit are now open to applicants.
The annual tuition fee is US$ 38,900 and the scholarships will cover half of that. Scholarships are available for both the Master's program and professional development courses.
"This is where the region is heading, we should be willing to share opportunities and exploit them. This is a great initiative by Rwanda that will hugely benefit Kenyans," said Fred Eshikuta, Deputy Head of Mission, Kenya High Commission.
He added that there were many Kenyan students studying in Rwanda and that his country will support the scholarship initiative by interesting students to apply.
CMU is the first top ranked U.S. research institution to offer graduate degrees in Africa with an in-country presence and resident faculty.
The Ugandan Deputy Head of Mission and First Secretary, Anne Katusiime, also welcomed the development.
"We are going to take this good news back home and ensure that our citizens are part of this great initiative," said Katusiime.
The Burundian Ambassador to Rwanda, Remmy Sinkazi, said Rwanda and Burundi had long partnerships in ensuring that centers of excellence are established, adding that CMU's establishment was a great opportunity for his country.
"Our Minister of ICT was been in Rwanda on a study tour; we believe CMU as a center of excellence will highly benefit our citizens and we need to take full advantage of this opportunity," said Amb Sinkazi.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday, Bruce Krogh, the Director of CMU-Rwanda, said in the past, very many African and Asian students have flocked the west to acquire education, but the trend is changing.
"The west is no longer the diamond of technological development, Africa has proved it has the fastest developing technology in the history of the world...this is why we came to Rwanda to offer a degree of the next generation of IT developers," said Krogh.
CMU is globally known to be one of the leading institutions in cyber security, according to Krogh, the university intends to offers the cyber security expertise.
Its establishment in Rwanda gives it a competitive edge against regional giants since students will be entitled to scholarships and studying near home.
"Students will also be lectured by the same professors of CMU-Pittsburg. African IT Corporations will also take advantage of the university by sending their staff to upgrade their standards," said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC Affairs, Amb. Bill Kayonga.
However, he recognized the fact that the cost of Education at CMU was far from reach for many regional students adding that it was the reason the government had offered a 50% scholarship package to all students.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sharon Haba, defended the standard of Rwandan students saying the quality of education wasn't a problem that would hinder Rwandans from qualifying to CMU.
"When our students go out there in the western universities including CMU, they easily fit in and perform impressively. Now that this opportunity is made easier, there is no doubt many will qualify to CMU-Rwanda," she said.
CMU is currently operating from Telecom House at they wait for the construction of their campus. According to Haba, the African Development Bank will fund the construction of the US$13million campus scheduled to be completed in July 2015.
The idea to bring CMU to Rwanda first came about during the International Telecommunication Union summit that was held in Kigali in 2007 where it was resolved that centers of excellence be established across Africa.
Since then, Rwanda entered into talks with CMU to interest the university to pen a campus in Kigali. Since it opened its doors in January, over 80 students have enrolled.