Great interest in KTH in Rwanda
At the end of March, a delegation from KTH led by the President, visited several higher education institutions in Rwanda, including the University of Rwanda in Kigali. From the CBH school, Professor Peter Nilsson, Professor Sebastiaan Meijer and researcher Gunaratna Kuttuva Rajarao participated.
The purpose of the trip was to participate in a jubilee conference for the 20-year research collaboration between Rwanda and Sweden – and to open the door to new collaborations. Therefore, KTH arranged a workshop for two days, which attracted around a hundred participants. One of the days the workshop was held at Norrsken, which is a hub for entrepreneurs in Kigali.
"The event was a big investment from KTH and gratifyingly we had a large number of participants in various fields from universities, authorities and start-ups," says Tina Murray, international strategist at KTH.
Invests in innovation and entrepreneurship
Along for the trip were employees from, among others, KTH Innovation and KTH Global Development Hub (GDH). Tina says that innovation and entrepreneurship are areas that Rwanda wants to focus on.
“We therefore had a comprehensive passport on innovation and start-ups. One of Rwanda's goals is to establish Kigali as an innovation hub, and KTH Innovation can play an important role there. But our ambition is to also identify other possible collaborations in different areas,” says Tina Murray.
More topics that were discussed were, for example, ethics, quality work in terms of postgraduate education and health. Sebastiaan Meijer and Peter Nilsson from the CBH school held a lecture on how innovative ideas are created out of crises, such as the pandemic.
“Of course we can help them, but they can also help us! Rwanda has a young population that wants to do a lot. There is a big focus on technical development and the university seems capable. They are good at doing a lot with relatively limited resources,” says Sebastiaan.
Neither Sebastiaan nor Peter had visited Rwanda, or Africa, before. Both were pleasantly surprised:
“I think there are conditions for our universities to have a very positive development together,” says Peter.
Sustainable water supply
Gunaratna Kuttuva Rajarao, researcher and teacher at KTH, lectured on sustainable water supply. This was Guna's third visit to Rwanda. She runs a research project together with the University of Rwanda and Lund University.
The project is financed by Sida and deals with questions about developing water treatment processes. In the land of a thousand hills, as Rwanda is called, it happens that heavy rainfall leads to life-threatening floods and landslides.
“Now we are waiting for the financial issues to be resolved so that we can start the field work and continue with the doctoral studies. This autumn I also hope that we will have our two researchers from Rwanda with us in Stockholm,” says Guna.
The trip lasted five days, which also included a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where the remains of 250,000 victims of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 are buried.
“Of all the trips I've taken, this is the trip that touched me the most,” says Tina Murray.
Text: Leena Höijer