The President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame inaugurated two skills development projects at the Kigali Institute of Technology (KIST) on Friday with a call for Rwandans to take seriously the development vision symbolized by the institute.
The projects that were inaugurated are a centre for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and a Centre for Innovations and Technology Transfer (CITT), which develops low cost technology for water and energy supply, sanitation,
crop harvesting, processing and storage, as well as housing and road construction.
President Kagame said Rwanda would become independent only if it used technology to create wealth and development. “How do you become independent? How do you sit down and chart the course for your development and politics without using technologies for development and stop being perpetually dependent on others.”
He criticized western diplomats who have attempted to use their positions of power to override the views of the Rwandan people contained in the draft constitution. “What can be more painful than being a leader of a country that can be dictated to by such individuals?” he said adding that Rwanda must become independent, through the development of technology, and thus not be dictated to by other countries.
Kagame thanked the UK government for funding the project, but stressed that the assistance should not be perpetual. “We should use the assistance given by friendly countries to stand on our own feet and walk ourselves. Nobody owes us perpetual support,” he said.
Speaking earlier, KIST Rector Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, appealed for government to make money available to finance young entrepreneurs who want to start businesses using the technical knowledge acquired at KIST. President Kagame pledged that government to finding the money to finance this scheme. He said, however, “It will be up to Rwandans to make good use of these funds. It is one thing to avail money, and another to have a good plan and be able to implement it successfully.”
Kagame commended women who are training and developing careers as technicians and engineers. “In the past, engineers and technicians were no-go areas for Ladies. It is good that we have young Rwandan ladies who are training to become technicians,” he said stressing that this would contribute to the realization of the vision 2020″
Kagame also called for the technologies developed at KIST to be taken to rural communities, where the majority of people live and where development would be of great benefit by improving livelihoods and increasing incomes.
KIST Vice Rector, Albert Butare made a presentation highlighting some of the potential benefits of technology to rural communities and economies. Among 25 technologies developed at the CITT since its establishment in the year 2000, are, processing and packaging of perishable crops, production of milling machines which are already in use in Kibungo and Umutara provinces, diary processing machinery, technology for drying diary products, oil and sugar cane processing machinery, water supply technologies, renewable technology particularly solar, wind and biogas, and mini hydro systems.
The UK Ambassador Susan Hogwood pledged continued support of the UK government to KIST.