In the second episode of my “Why I Love Africa (WILOA) Series” for the Business and Financial Times, I focussed on the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and how I visited that innovative university in February 2020 in Durban as part of a whistle stop in Durban, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town. It was part of a 10-day visit to South Africa.
I conducted that South African trip when I served as the Head of the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ghana Business School and Acting Director of Institutional Advancement at the same university.
In that article, I focussed on a brand-new MBA programme at the DUT and today I am focusing on the University of Kigali in Rwanda.
Nestled in the heart of Kigali, and almost opposite the Kigali Business Centre, the University of Kigali is an innovative university that deserves celebration. The inspiration for this article also stems from a message I received yesterday that the DUT and UoK are finalising a new Memorandum of Understanding to trigger off mutually beneficial exchanges with the University of Kigali in Rwanda.
The Land of a Thousand Hills
Rwanda is one of the most celebrated African nation brands, not only because of its sponsorship of major football clubs in Europe, but also as one of the acclaimed innovation capitals of the world. Rwanda is called the land of a thousand hills. Its topography comprises several hills and valleys; and it is one of the ideal places to visit in Africa due to its natural beauty and wonders. These scenic endowments include the endangered mountain gorilla, majestic diversities of wildlife as well as extremely impressive mountain ranges (Why is Rwanda Called the Land of a Thousand Hills (bwindiugandagorillatrekking.com)).
The Great Lakes’ Safari website also argues that the proverbial ‘thousand hills’ are literally scattered through the nation – fertile, green and beautifully terraced – and the people, whose ancient culture comes to life through traditional music, songs and dance, are some of the world’s most charming and hospitable. Interestingly, there is still more to explore: volcanic mountains, pristine lakes, numerous rivers, amazing birdlife, primates and wildlife, and a fascinating history (Rwanda – “Land of a Thousand Hills” – Great Lakes Safaris East Africa).
Against the backdrop of this excellent nation brand, the tertiary education system in Rwanda is also developing spectacularly with public institutions like the University of Rwanda offering the traditional public university staple diet. Other internationalising university options include Mt Kenya University and the African Leadership University. The University of Kigali is one of most innovative private higher institutions of learning in Rwanda. A fully accredited chartered university, its main campus is located in Kacyiru, next to Kigali Heights, about 3 kms from Kigali city centre. It also has another campus in the Musanze District in the Northern Province of Rwanda (Vision & Mission – UoK).
UoK strives to achieve excellence in academic delivery, research and provision of innovative service to the community. The vision of the university is the provision of qualitative higher education programmes to meet national, regional, continental, and global developmental needs in a sustainability-driven world. The university is organised around The School of Business and Management, the School of Computing and IT, the School of Education, the School of Communication and Journalism, the School of Law, the School of Education and the School of Professional and Executive Programmes.
According to the University website, the university also has three centres, the Centre for Economic Governance and Leadership (CEGL), the Euro-African Centre for Study of Law and Markets Regulations and the Centre for Modern Languages (CML). The University of Kigali also has also two academies – the IBM Academy, and the CISCO Academy – which train IT professionals.
According to the Dean of the School of Business and Management, the uniqueness of the school is that it brings together outstanding academics and practitioners in Business, Marketing, Procurement, Economics, Accounting, Finance, Public Administration and Local Governance. He disclosed further that the school includes a student body with different backgrounds and lived experiences, arguing that the rich training of the Business School makes the products extremely competitive for local and international markets.
The Dean of the School of Communication and Journalism also disclosed that the school houses six undergraduate programmes: Mass Communication; Journalism; TV and Radio Production, Public Relations, Languages, Music and Theatre as well as the Centre for Modern Languages. He argues that, with increasing globalisation, information, communication, and media industries have become more important and the School of Communication and Journalism prepares students spectacularly for the global marketplace.
On his own part, Prof. Abdulrazaq Olayinka Oniye, the Dean, School of Education, disclosed that students are taught to combine pedagogical skill acquisition and professional decisiveness with a unique humane disposition. This, he contends, is capable of making learners appreciate the standard of ethics in the teaching profession. The school trains professional teachers and provides support services to other professionals charged with the mandate to facilitate learning in other fields of human endeavour like Accounting, Management Sciences, and Law, to name but a few.
At the School of Law, the Dean, Prof. Zikamabahari, disclosed that the course content includes human rights, constitutional law, corporate governance, national security, the environment, anti-corruption procedure, labour and employment law, international trade, health policy and biotechnology, criminal justice, and economics. He argues that no law school in the country better prepares lawyers, public servants, and leaders for a changing world than does the Faculty of Law, University of Kigali.
At the School of Computing and IT, the Dean, Prof. Jean Baptiste Mbanzabugabo remarked that if you want to be a front-runner in the digital generation, the School of Computing and IT is the place for you. He argues that the school’s evolving and innovative curriculum design ensures that the school’s degrees remain relevant so that students graduate as robust, well-rounded, and highly skilled ICT professionals. He also notes that teaching at the school incorporates the latest ICT technologies and trends in all their teaching routines.
The School of Professional and Executive Programmes handles executive education delivery, contract consultancies, and is one of the main outreach organs of the University to industry. The School of Graduate Studies, on its own part, oversees the delivery of all graduate study programmes at the University of Kigali.
Gender Diversity and University Leadership
To the extent that all the Deans and Heads I have discussed so far are men, it is important to note that there are several women in leadership positions at the UoK as well. Prominent amongst them is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Doreen Gatakaa Njeru; the Director of Unversity Operations, Alice Kirezi; and the Director of International Affairs and Partnerships, Gabriella Emilie Afrika. The Dean of Student Affairs is also female, along with several prominent faculty members.
The Board of Promoters is led by Professor Nshuti Manasseh, who has served in several auspicious capacities like Minister of Commerce, Industry, Co-operatives, and Tourism, Minister of Finance and, finally, Minister of Public Service and Labour of the Republic of Rwanda.
Other prominent members of the Board of Promoters include Mr. Philibert Afrika, who is a development economist, and has worked for 30 years with the African Development Bank. There, he occupied high managerial positions, including Secretary-General, Director of Policy, Director of Operations and Director of Regional Integration.
The university last week also outdoored a new Chancellor in the person of Dr. Carlos Fernando Sotz. Sotz opened the new academic year 2021-2022 on Monday, 6th September, 2021 and thanked students and staff for their impressive efforts in striving to make UoK a conducive environment for academic growth.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University is Prof. Tombola M. Gustave, who, according to the UoK website, is an associate professor of Corporate Governance, a registered auditor, assessor, and reviewer for the Higher Education Council of Rwanda. He brings strong leadership skills to the University of Kigali and is an ardent believer in the school’s motto: “Labour for the Future”.
Why I would Recommend UoK to You
First, Rwanda is a wonderful place to live and study. Second, the Board and Promoters, Chancellor and leadership of the university give strong indications that the university will keep growing and be an educational brand of choice in East Africa soon.
Third, the university boasts twenty-nine nationalities in its student populace, making it a good destination for international students. Fourth, the faculty is also multicultural and boasts several non-Rwandese on its staff.
Finally, UoK is about to relocate its headquarters to a brand new and bigger campus offering better student experiences to incoming students.
If you want to enjoy the warm UoK student experience or connect on any issue, please email the Director of International Partnerships, Gabriella Emilie Afrika on [email protected], or the Dean of Student Affairs, Regina Uwihirwie on [email protected] and they will take excellent care of you.
This is the 4th in the Why I Love Africa (WILOA) series by Professor Robert Ebo Hinson.