Carnegie Mellon University and Mastercard Foundation partner with Government of Rwanda to develop engineering and technology programs

About 10,000 young Africans will be able to benefit from the partnership announced on September 8 by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the Mastercard Foundation, and the Rwandan government. The investment of 275.7 million USD planned in this context will go to CMU-Africa, an American university campus based in Kigali, to enable these young people from economically disadvantaged communities, in particular young women, young people with disabilities and forcibly displaced young people, to benefit from innovative training programs in the field of digital technology and AI.

Africa’s population is among the youngest and fastest growing in the world. According to United Nations projections, the continent should see its population double by 2050, rising from 1 billion inhabitants to 2.4 billion, half of whom will then be under 25 years old.

It is estimated that in 2030, the African labor market will have 375 million young people, it is essential to provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in and develop the economies of the future.

This initiative builds on a previous partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a 10-year partnership between the Rwandan government and CMU-Africa, which has enabled 561 young people from 21 African countries to benefit from training at the international level, at CMU-Africa, including 125 students benefiting from the Mastercard Foundation scholarship program.

The Foundation’s investment provides permanent funding of US$175 million for CMU-Africa. It also includes an amount of USD 100.7 million for the creation of the CMU-Africa Center for the Inclusive Digital Transformation of Africa.

Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The Mastercard Foundation, said:

“Recipients of Mastercard Foundation scholarships and graduates from this program will be at the forefront of developing job-creating technologies and businesses and improving Africa’s economic competitiveness. We look forward to the role that African universities will play in nurturing scientists, innovators and problem-solvers on the continent, as well as developing knowledge that will benefit society as a whole”


Carnegie Mellon is the only American research university with master’s programs and full-time faculty, staff, and operations on the continent. CMU-Africa was created in 2011 through the partnership between Carnegie Mellon University and the Rwandan government.

CMU-Africa offers higher education in the field of AI, ICT, electrical and computer engineering through the renowned Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering, which applies the same standards, curricula and requirements than its Pittsburgh campus. In spring 2022, the program integrated more than 230 students representing 21 African countries.

Nearly 90% of its students, in the first year after graduation, have created or joined startups, are pursuing their doctorate in top doctoral programs in the United States and Europe, and are employed in offices of government information, particularly within the Government of Rwanda and the World Bank.

The new partnership

Concretely, this partnership with the Mastercard Foundation will enable CMU-Africa to devote itself to the following objectives:

  • Developing teaching capacity, including the introduction of a new degree in artificial intelligence engineering, and e-learning programs;
  • Increase the annual number of students enrolled at CMU-Africa by more than 33%;
  • Provide additional financial assistance to more CMU-Africa students, including increased support for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at CMU-Africa. This collaboration will make it possible to award direct scholarships to a total of 300 students;
  • Ensure that programs recruit and provide opportunities for marginalized groups, including women, people with disabilities and displaced people;
  • Pilot English language immersion programs to prepare undergraduate students from other African universities for graduate studies.

In addition, the partnership will more generally strengthen the ecosystem of research, entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa through the following actions:

  • By establishing a network of higher education institutions in Africa that can collaborate with the private sector and governments to create the necessary conditions for an inclusive digital transformation;
  • By supporting nearly 10 African universities to deliver high quality education in engineering and technology;
  • By increasing the dissemination of digital knowledge to stimulate technological development and job-creating innovation through training, seed funding and collaboration opportunities for researchers from CMU-Africa and other partner universities;
  • By directly involving CMU-Pittsburgh faculty and staff in CMU-Africa activities with the goal of innovating in education and contributing to the development of knowledge essential for Africa’s inclusive digital transformation in fields as varied as agriculture, health and finance, among others.

Allen Robinson, Director of CMU-Africa and Associate Dean for International Programs in Africa, concludes:

“The Mastercard Foundation has been a key contributor to the growth of CMU-Africa, helping to meet the growing demand for high-quality technical skills that will accelerate the continent’s development. With this new episode of our partnership, our capacity to set up a pan-African network positively influencing the future of young people on the continent will increase exponentially. »

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