Arusha. The first phase of the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha will be completed mid next year. Construction of the institute’s vital structures has been underway at the site since August this year at a cost of Sh38.7 billion.
The institution’s vice chancellor Prof Burton Mwamila told reporters during a media tour of the site last week that students admission would start later next year. “We will be a bit flexible. Since our students would be for advanced degrees, we would not necessarily commence the academic year in September or October like other colleges,” he said.
He pointed out that the college would only enrol students who will pursue post-graduate degrees (doctorate and masters) in various scientific and engineering disciplines. “Students would be admitted competitively from the East African region”, he said, as he took reporters around the site under construction. The start-up campus of the institute is at the former premises of the Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation and Rural Technology (Camartec) at Tengeru, east of Arusha.
According to Prof Mwamila, a former engineering don at the University of Dar es Salaam, the main campus for NM-AIST would be developed south of the present site in later years.
Already a 3,285 acre plot has been secured at Karangai and would be developed into a state-of-the art centre for science and technological studies in Africa.
“We are yet to complete drawings and develop a business plan of the area,” he said, adding that most of the funding for the project would come from Tanzania, the host country.
Said the don at the first formal visit by journalists to the place: “This is a Pan African institution but for the time being, Tanzania will bear the cost of its start-up.” NM-AIST would draw its students mainly from eastern, central and southern Africa and its post-graduate programmes would focus on science, technology and engineering.
However, lecturers would come from universities in Tanzania, East Africa and across the world, but notably the United States, South Korea and Japan. According to him, an inter-ministerial task force under the deputy permanent secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office is overseeing the project. Construction has been boosted by support from State pension funds under an entity called PPL which on May 22, this year, signed an agreement with the government to undertake the project.
The institute’s deputy vice chancellor, Prof Dunstan Shemwetta, said students would be enrolled from 18 African countries which have shown interest in the project. Nearly half a dozen other colleges/campuses are being set up in other parts of the continent under the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The Arusha campus is devoted to science and Technology.
NMF was hatched by think tanks in Africa in 2002 with the aim to train more scientific experts in Africa in order to enable the continent catch up with the rest of the world in knowledge and skills.
Source – The Citizen – By Zephania Ubwani