Podcast: Romain Murenzi Discusses Science, Development, and the Lessons of Rwandan Coffee

Ask Romain Murenzi about the role of science to Rwanda’s emerging economic strength, and he will talk to you about his home nation’s coffee.

Ten or 15 years ago, most of Rwanda’s beans were of a low grade and there wasn’t much of a market for them. Today, the bushes grow on beautiful terraced hillsides, and the roasted beans are sold in Starbucks, Costco and other locations in North America and Europe. In an interview, Murenzi credited science—or, more exactly, the importance of botany, the technology of bean preparation, and marketing, all supported by government policy.

As a minister in the Rwandan government between 2001 and 2009, Murenzi helped implement President Paul Kagame’s science-for-development strategy, which is transforming a chronically poor nation, devastated by genocide, into one whose people have the best food security of any nation in East Africa. Today, as the recently named director of AAAS’s Center for Science, Technology, and Sustainable Development, Murenzi believes that Rwanda’s experience offers valuable lessons—and hope—for developing nations worldwide.

He brings broad experience to his new role at AAAS. Early in his career, he was a math teacher in the East African nation of Burundi. He received his Ph.D in physics at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. In 1992, he came to the United States to join the faculty at Clark Atlanta University in Georgia. He won tenure, and in 1999 became chair of the Physics Department. He has published more than 70 articles and conference papers, with a major interest in continuous wavelets application to multidimensional signal processing.

In an interview with AAAS.org, Murenzi touched on a number of other topics:

  • How the AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Sustainable Development can become a hub that brings together policy makers, development banks and the global science community to work for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals—especially goals for environmental sustainability and building global partnerships;
  • How Rwanda’s government, early in Kagame’s presidency, settled on its commitment to science and technology for development; and
  • How developed nations and developing nations can build relationships that are constructive for both sides.

Listen to the full podcast, or read the podcast text.

The podcast was produced by Carla Schaffer.
Read the full text of the interview with Romain Murenzi, director of the AAAS Center on Science, Technology, and Sustainable Development.

Learn more about Murenzi’s appointment to the AAAS Center on Science, Technology, and Sustainable Development.

Learn about other initiatives of the AAAS International Office.