Rwanda: Why Mount Kenya University changed its name to Mount Kigali

Mount Kenya University Rwanda is now Mount Kigali University. The change of name was recently authorized by the Higher Education Council of Rwanda. The university is now an autonomous international institution of higher learning, and not a cross-border institution.

However, it retains the same attributes that identify it as one of the best international universities in Rwanda.

These are: High quality undergraduate and postgraduate academic programs; cutting-edge infrastructure; topnotch faculty; international education; scholarships; diverse corporate social responsibility programs, and high employability of graduates.

There has also not been any change in the university ownership.

The university was founded in Kenya by renowned educationalist Prof. Simon N. Gicharu. It opened its doors in Rwanda in the year 2010. Initially, it operated from a leased building along KN4 Avenue, and another one along KN3 in Kicukiro.

Later Mount Kenya University Rwanda established its own permanent home in Kagarama, Kicukiro District. The home is now Mount Kigali University.

In 2014, Prof. Gicharu won the Ernst & Young Eastern Africa Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his achievements in expanding access to higher education in the East African region.

Over time, Mount Kigali University has improved its academic infrastructure. It’s facilities in health sciences and hospitality training are among the best in institutions of higher learning in Africa.

Mount Kigali University is constructing a Four-Star Hotel within its precincts. Known as Kigali Paramount Hotel, it is modeled on the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) of Switzerland, and Utalii College in Nairobi, Kenya.

It will be a regional centre for hospitality and tourism management training.

“Rwanda is now the preferred regional destination for Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions,” says Dr. Martin Kimemia, acting Vice Chancellor, Mount Kigali University. “Kigali Paramount Hotel will equip Rwandans with adequate professional skills to take up the emerging opportunities.”

The university is soon set to open a community Health Center, which will offer professional medical services to the community in Kagarama.

Mount Kigali University has also tapped Dr. Innocent Mugisha, former Executive Director of Rwanda Higher Education Council as the chairman of the University Council. Dr. Mugisha has vast experience in higher education. He is also a former Director of Quality Assurance at the University of Rwanda.

“This new name -Mount Kigali University- honours our own identity as Rwandan people,” says Dr. Mugisha. “It is a mark of patriotism and a celebration of Rwanda’s uniqueness as a Land of 1,000 Hills.”

Just like the City of Kigali, Mount Kigali University is named after 6,079ft tall Mount Kigali. The mountain (also known as ‘Mont Kigali’) is one of the most popular and historically-relevant in Rwanda.

The name goes back to 14th Century AD when King Cyilima I Rungwe established his seat of power on the mountain. According to history, the King stood at the top of the mountain, looked at his territory and said, “Burya iki gihugu ni Kigali (This country is vast”).

From his seat of power, King Cyilima could see the numerous hills and valleys adjoining Mount Kigali, where his servants, generals, courtiers and priests lived.

Mount Kigali stretches to parts of Nyamirambo, Kimisagara and Kigali. The name ‘Kigali’ is a combination of ‘Ki’ and ‘Gali’. While ‘Ki’ is a definite article/prefix, ‘Gali’ is Kinyarwanda word for wide or broad.

Prof. Gicharu, who is the chairman of the Mount Kigali University board of directors said the board will commit even more resources to ensure that the institution continues to offer quality education.

Last February, the university launched its memoir ‘Mountain Meets Land of 1,000 Hills’. The book tells the historical journey from Kenya in 2010 all through to setting a footprint in Rwanda as a campus of Mount Kenya University.

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