Monday, August 25, 2008

9th night in Kigali

Friday 22 of August

We thought we could sleep in and have a late breakfast, but what we did not know is that the schedule had changed! We got a call to leave for the Ministry of Science and Technology before we could eat. No mercy!

The audience consisted mostly of engineers, so Paul decided to challenge them by lecturing about Market Design, covering prediction markets, matching (top-trading cycles), and spectrum auctions. The lecture was extraordinarily well received. The Minister, with a doctorate in mathematical physics, was particularly active. There was a break to interview Paul for Rwandan television.

Eva went back to the School to say goodbye to the Rector, and the vice rector. Krishna Govender the rector took me around the school and showed me the facilities. The 2000 plus student have a library, and a study hall and an IT unit. But all very small. (see pictures)

6 out of 60 teachers have a PhD degree. This fall the school admitted 500 new students in addition to students for the MBA part-time program.

For lunch we went to Novotel again and had lunch with the RITA (Rwandan Information Technology Administration) people, Nkubito Manzi Bakuramutsa, executive director, and Patrick Nyirishema, deputy executive director. Nkubito was educated in NY (his parents had studied at the Sorbonne Paris) and worked at H&P for eleven years before he came to Rwanda.

While walking in we were introduced to the Rwandan Ambassador to the United States, James Kimonyo and his sister. (see Picture). He mentioned that he was working on a program to place top students from Rwanda at top universities in the US.

The afternoon was packed with administration of the vignette study, and meetings with the Minister of Finance and Education.

At the Ministry of Education we met with the minister, Dr Daphrose Gahakwa, a Rwandan women and a professor from Uganda in agriculture. She had just taken over the ministry and had been the Minister of Agriculture before. The director of planning and Policy and Capacity Building was also there. I told her my experience, and she raised her eyebrow when I spoke about the School of Finance and Banking.

Eva asked why the school with so limited resource had to admit so many students, why not just settle for 50 or so, in particular given the labor market. She said the government had a plan to go from 40,000 students in higher education to a million within some years. Eva also asked her who decides about the number of students. She said that the school was paid per student. We pointed out to her that that kind of scheme may not benefit quality but only quantity in education.

We talked some more about the potential problems associated with this goal and I promised her Eva would get back to her to see what we at Stanford could do. She will.

The meeting at the finance ministry was mostly for Paul and he and the finance minister James Musoni had a straightforward discussion about the problems with illiquid capital markets. Eva said something about the issues that had been ventilated with the Minister of Education. At the meeting Jean Francois and James Tumwine personal assistant to the Minister also participated.

Arriving at the hotel around 6PM, the director of the newly started policy institute the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research Rwanda Antonia Mutoro was waiting for Eva in the lobby. We had tried to set up a meeting between her and Greg since Greg is the deputy director of SIEPR and could have given some good advice to a new although temporary director of the institute. She is interviewed for the job on a permanent basis on Monday. Eva did not have much to say except urging her to get in touch when she knows if she will be the future director. She is finishing her PhD in quality control at the University of Glasgow right now.

Finally at 6.45 Eva met with Jean Francois, the chief economic adviser to the Minister of finance, to talk about viable solutions that Stanford could contribute to further the quality of education of Rwandan students.

Friday evening was supposed to be a rap up meeting with everyone involved in our stay, Molly, Andrew, David, Nkubito, Antonia, and the minister of science and technology. But in the end we were a small group with David, Andrew, Andre and Paul and me who tried to summarize from the weeks with the Stanford visitors and look forward. Eva promised to get back to people in Rwanda about what Andre and Greg would want to do to as well has about Paul’s and my different projects.

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