Smart Africa commits to support 30 CMU-Africa students

Staff writer

Apr 5, 2017

The Smart Africa Secretariat has renewed its partnership to Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-Africa) with a three-year commitment to support 30 students through the Smart Africa Scholarship Fund.

The Smart Africa Scholarship Fund was established in 2013, and aims to build the much-needed ICT capacity to catalyze Africa’s economic development. The fund mobilizes the necessary financial resources from African governments and multilateral stakeholders to increase the number of advanced engineering degrees and industry-certified ICT engineers to fill Africa's critical shortage of skills in this area. The fund is currently supported through contributions from the International Telecommunications Union, as well as the governments of Gabon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and South Sudan, with total contributions of $1.2 million USD, and a growing commitment from other Smart Africa Alliance member states. Since 2015, 17 students at CMU-Africa have been supported through this fund.

I was exposed to technology experts from around the world, and was able to hone my skills as an engineer.

Kizito Masaba, MSECE 2016, Carnegie Mellon University Africa

CMU-Africa alumnus, Kizito Masaba (ECE'16) is now employed as a data analyst at Pivot Access, a leading Rwandan software company focused on fintech. Kizito was awarded the Smart Africa Scholarship in 2015, which allowed him to complete his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. During his time at CMU-Africa, Kizito was chosen to present a research paper at IEEE PES Innovative Smart Grid Technologies-Europe, which was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia. His research topic was on Design and Implementation of a Load Scheduling Embedded System for Off Grid Solar Power Systems. The paper proposes an embedded system solution that schedules appliances to run when there is available power from solar panels. This solution not only ensures that loads are served at the earliest possible availability, but also avoids blackouts in the system. Kizito was recently admitted to do his Ph.D. in computer science at Dartmouth College, where he will pursue research in data science. In describing his experience at CMU, Kizito said “The Smart Africa Scholarship at Carnegie Mellon University provided me with a transformative educational experience. I was exposed to technology experts from around the world, and was able to hone my skills as an engineer. I’m grateful for the opportunity afforded to me.”

A 2016 recipient of the Smart Africa Scholarship Fund, Christella Umuhoza is currently pursuing her master’s degree in information technology at CMU-Africa. With a passion for leadership and community engagement, Christella was chosen by her peers to serve on the 2017 Student Guild. Most recently, Christella participated in the Hult Prize President’s challenge, where she and her fellow students conceptualized a solution that enables refugees to become self-sufficient through cooperative microlending. Christella’s team was shortlisted for the prize and they pitched their concept among global competitors in Dubai in March. “Being a Smart Africa scholar at CMU-Africa has opened up my world to new ideas and opportunities. I plan to use the skills I gain in technology to improve the education system in Africa,” said Christella.

While its current study body is made up of students from 7 African countries, the Smart Africa Scholarship Fund will enable Africans from across the continent to access world-class education from one of the top engineering universities in the world. The establishment of the fund complements the efforts of the Government of Rwanda and Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering to harness Africa's brightest young minds, equipping them with the knowledge and experience to significantly contribute to Africa's economic and technological transformation.