Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia grow their presence in Africa

Amid the rolling hills on the outskirts of Rwanda’s capital Kigali, the Carnegie Mellon University Africa’s new campus is a prominent feature on the lush landscape.

The 6,000 square meters property is located within the Kigali Innovation City, a public-private partnership aimed at positioning Rwanda as a globally competitive and knowledge-based economy. Since it’s establishment in 2011, CMU Africa has grown from a small graduate program attracting local applicants to becoming the only American research university with a full-time faculty and operations in Africa. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the private university created an outpost in Rwanda with the aim of training high-quality engineers and producing Africa’s next tech leaders.

The new $12-million campus doubles down on that vision, seeking to introduce locally-tailored but globally-competitive packages to solve distinct challenges. But it’s also indicative of the growing presence of American universities in the continent: whether it’s by establishing satellite branches, research centers, or specialized offshoot programs. These universities are deepening their reach in the continent as more global companies set shop and seek top talent for hire.