May 31st, 2023

dSkills@EA Promotes Research and Innovation in EAC at the Grand Challenges Rwanda (GIZ)

The Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) together with its partner, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), attended the launch event of Grand Challenges Rwanda that took place on 18 and 19 May 2023 in Kigali at the Kigali Convention Center.

Grand Challenges Rwanda supports creative scientists in Rwanda, Africa and globally to implement research that fosters innovation in solving the most critical development challenges. It is hosted by the Rwandan National Council for Science and Technology (NCST), in partnership with African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), and Grand Challenges Africa through Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation). The launch brought together key players across the national, regional and global arena to deliberate on strategies for improved investment in Research & Development (R&D).

IUCEA and GIZ, through the joint implementation of the Digital Skills for an Innovative East African Industry (dSkills@EA) project, showcased outputs of research and innovation projects for innovators at universities and support for academia in driving research development and innovation management. Among the initiatives showcased were the highlights of the outputs from the Centre of Excellence for ICT in East Africa (CENIT@EA), a regional innovation hub that nurtures young professionals in developing and implementing innovative solutions for the industry.

Ritha Umuhoza, Jacqueline Uwimbabazi and Yvonne Iradukunda were among the three young female innovators and ICT professionals from CENIT@EA who ably showcased and presented their research projects, one on Smart Tanks Juice Level Monitoring System: a case study of Raha Beverages Company in Tanzania, and another on Mobile-based Tickets Tracking Helpdesk System for Technical Support and e-payments, a case study of Habari Node in Tanzania, supported through the initiatives of the EAC’s Centre of Excellence.

“It is a great opportunity for IUCEA and GIZ to be updated on initiatives and best practices in unlocking the innovation potential on the African Continent while also deliberating on mechanisms to leverage opportunities for research and innovation collaboration to support economic growth in the East African Community (EAC) region”, noted Prof Gaspard Banyankimbona, Executive Secretary, IUCEA, during discussions with the Rwandan Minister of Education, Dr Valentine Uwamariya, at the exhibition booth.

“GIZ continues to support the priority areas of the EAC in implementation of programmes that foster the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region by building capacities for academia to support innovations scale into the market”, added Ms Evelyn Rutazaha, Advisor, GIZ.

Rwanda is the 1st EAC Partner State to join a growing global network of innovations to leverage efforts from members of the global Grand Challenges family. This will broaden collaborations and mutual R&D funding for ground-breaking innovative research projects in the region and catalyze research exchanges, best practices and experiences with global and African researchers. IUCEA foresees an opportunity to further drive awareness across EAC Partner States on the need to support the development of research and innovation at national as well as regional level, leveraging on the platform of collaboration between the Grand Challenges Africa and AUDA-NEPAD for an East African-based initiative.

About Grand Challenges

Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems, implemented with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It prioritizes funding opportunities for high-level quality ideas by researchers and innovators with exciting innovative research projects leading to products and services as unique solutions. The emphasis is on research developed in partnership with industries, companies and academic institutions using highly recognized labs, industries, innovation hubs and other settings, strengthening ties between regional, global and African collaborators.

About dSkills@EA

"Digital Skills for an Innovative East African Industry” (dSkills@EA) is a regional innovation hub that offers digital skills and capacity building relevant for the digital transformation of industries and society through academia and industry collaboration. The project aims at strengthening the employment and innovation-related digital skills of youth in the EAC and supports the industry’s digital transformation. The project is part of the EAC-German technical development cooperation, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and implemented by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the East African-German academic consortium that forms part of the Centre of Excellence for ICT in East Africa (CENIT@EA), led by the Nelson Mandela African Institution for Science and Technology (NM-AIST) and the University of Oldenburg.

Find more information on dSkills@EA here.

Photo: © Havugimana Eliezel